Fighting in Muhajariya, South Darfur, Sudan, forces MSF to leave population without sufficient care - MSF hopes to return soon
26 January 2009
Following heavy fighting in Muhajariya, South Darfur, Sudan, on January 15 MSF has had to temporarily relocate most of its medical team to Nyala, the regional capital, an estimated 80 km away. The team has learned that the MSF base in Muhajariya was completely destroyed by fire, however the MSF clinic remains functional. "It is frustrating to be out of Muhajariya at a time where we can support the population, but we are trying to return and continue our medical care as before, as soon as the circumstances allow," explained Jose Hulsenbek, MSF's coordinator for operations in Darfur. After the evacuation of MSF, more than 35,000 people living in Muhajariya and its immediate surroundings who are directly affected by the violence are now without sufficient and urgently needed medical assistance. MSF hopes to be able to return with a full team in the area as soon possible. MSF asks all parties to the conflict to respect humanitarian actors providing essential medical aid to the civilians. Prior to the team's departure staff were busy treating wounded. There were 25 patients who were given urgent care, 18 of whom were treated for gunshot wounds. The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) assisted with the transportation of six of the wounded to Nyala Hospital for further care, upon the departure of MSF. "When we had to evacuate, it was not clear, what would happen to the patients. In the end, for some of the injured a helicopter evacuation to Nyala was arranged and it was a relief for me, that they would get necessary treatment”, said Henrike Meyer medical doctor for MSF who was forced to leave Muhajariya. “If I had the choice, to stay or to go, I guess, I would prefer to stay with the patients." A small team of Sudanese MSF staff remaining in Muhajariya continue to provide basic life-saving services. However, without surgical services, this is far from meeting the needs of the population. The security situation remains unclear. It is reported that most women and children have fled the town.