On July 17, MSF opened a new programme in Sarif Omra in the troubled North Darfur region of Sudan. Through this and a second project in Kebkabiya, MSF is providing primary and secondary healthcare covering essential needs such as therapeutic feeding for severely malnourished children and maternity care for pregnant women.
The urgency of the crisis has prompted MSF to charter a Boeing 747 to fly the necessary materials from Belgium to Sudan. The chartered plane, due to depart from Ostend on July 21, will carry 66 tonnes of goods including tents, hundreds of metres of plastic sheeting for shelter, vehicles, water and sanitation materials, as well as essential medicines. Also included are 13 tonnes of therapeutic food - enough to care for 400 severely malnourished children for three months.
According to Jerome Oberreit, an MSF co-ordinator for Sudan, "the aim is to provide care to an area which is mired in a catastrophic humanitarian crisis and to a people with no access to even the most basic medical facilities. Given the violent nature of the crisis in Darfur, we have added a capacity for minor surgery for war-wounded, in addition to essential operations such as Caesarean sections. Plus, with the real threat of disease outbreaks, the project will encompasses epidemic monitoring."
"This is the second 'full charter' which we have sent to Sudan in recent weeks and it almost certainly won't be the last," explains Oberreit. "We are identifying new needs every day and the further we move from towns, the more we see devastation reaped by the conflict and the continuing lack of aid."
MSF has been working at this emergency in Darfur for over six months, with a total staff comprising of 121 expatriates working alongside over 2,000 Sudanese nationals to bring aid to areas spread across the whole of the region.
MSF has been present in Northern Sudan since the beginning of 2004. In early June, the first primary and secondary healthcare project opened in Kebkabiya, a town which due to the conflict has seen its population swell from 15,000 to over 80,000.