Loneliness and distress in Darfur, Sudan

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© Coralie Lechelle/MSF
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A child at the Nyala Camp.

Distribution of materials and food.

Water cans and materials for shelter are distributed to the people at the camp.

Shelters are often little more than twigs tied together.

Makeshift shelters used whatever materials were at hand.

Children help with the construction of an MSF nutrition tent.

When Sudanese authorities chose to relocate the people, they chose to flee the camp instead.


Jean-Sébastien Matte: "The first time we traveled to Mornay, we saw villages burning, while people along the road with their belongings, were fleeing. Some of them, particularly the oldest and youngest, couldn't walk, and were left behind. We drove some elderly to Mornay. On our way back, there was not a single house standing anymore &#— one can hardly see a living soul between Zalinge and El Genina. The area had been cleared.

"Before these tragic events, Mornay was a small town of about 3,000 inhabitants. When we first arrived in Mornay, there were already about 20,000 displaced people. There are at least 60,000 now, coming from villages located within a 50 to 60 kilometres radius, all villages that were attacked by Janjaweed (militia).

Coralie Lechelle: "We received 80 wounded people, including children, that we had to take care of urgently. There were numerous bullet wounds. A vast majority of the wounded were civilians . In the first days of the attack, we received a woman with her three-month-old baby, both wounded by bullets. We tried to transfer her to El Genina hospital. The car in which she left was attacked by Janjaweed (militia); everyone except her and her baby were killed. She managed to reach the hospital and she and the baby are doing well. There are very few men among the displaced population. Among the women, at least 17 were victims of rape. People are raped, beaten or killed. From what we could see, there are heavy massacres and violence in the region."

"During the attacks around Mornay, we couldn't move out of the town, helicopters and bombings prevented it. We were just the two of us, one logistician and one nurse, to provide heavy health care to the wounded ... It is the first time I faced such a dilemma, (explains Coralie). As a nurse, I am not trained to do surgery or some other medical tasks, but was it ethical not to do anything? So, we did all we could. We created a ward with 15 beds for the wounded, provided the displaced with some water, gave some basic essential items and started nutritional assistance."

"The nutritional situation is worsening and worrying: we can see cattle dying in the streets of Mornay. People have to go farther and farther to get food; as it's very risky, they go in groups of 50. When we arrived, we evaluated that about one third of the families still had stocks of sorgo (a cultivated grain). For how long? During the nutritional screening, we evaluated 4,000 children. Now, with the newly arrived displaced, there are more than 12,000 children. We are giving emergency care to 300 severely malnourished children and 1,200 children are receiving supplementary food rations."

"We are trying to reach the villages in which people say there are displaced still with no assistance. People mentioned villages like Kerenik, Habila where there should be about 40,000 displaced persons. These are the villages we haven't been able to reach, where people say the situation is terrible."

"More assistance is urgently needed, not only in Mornay. Lack of water, lack of food, lack of basic items ... It is a huge crisis and an emergency reaction is needed. But the mobilization of aid agencies is still expected ..."