Category Archives: Sudan

Darfur ten years on: mothers and children

Mariam Abdullah Adam had no milk to breastfeed her 45-day-old baby because “we have no food in the house,” she says. [Laura Sheahen/Caritas]

Nawal, 27, was a little confused when people showed up at her thatched hut one day, asking about her baby daughter. “They measured her arm to see how thick it was,” she remembers.

One thing wasn’t confusing: the family was hungry. “At home we don’t have any food,” she says simply. Though her husband earns some money as a daily labourer, there isn’t enough for the four children. “One of our little sons was in school, but he had to drop out. Our situation is bad.”

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Nawal’s situation has been bad for almost a decade, ever since the day her home village in Darfur was attacked. Shot in the leg and hiding under a tree, she thought she would die that day.

With thousands of others, Nawal escaped to one of Sudan’s camps for displaced people. They were safer there, but could no longer earn a living by farming. Some camp residents do tasks like brickmaking, making enough money to buy the day’s kilo or two of grain. But many mothers are prevented by illness, danger, or bad luck from earning enough to feed their families, and watch helplessly as their children grow thinner. Continue reading

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Helping leprosy patients in Darfur

by Laura Sheahen

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A programme staff member examines Halima’s hand. If leprosy symptoms are diagnosed early enough, patients do not lose their fingers.

Most people in England and Wales know of leprosy only from history books and the Bible. But in a few poor countries, neither the illness nor leper colonies are a thing of the past. For years, hundreds of leprosy patients lived in a place called Towanga near the border of Sudan and Chad.

“There wasn’t much food there, but it was enough,” says Mohammad, a healthy 20-year-old man living in the same camp as Halima. There was also leprosy medication available at a clinic near the border.

Everything changed when violence began in Darfur. Even leprosy patients weren’t spared: Towanga’s residents had to run for their lives.

“When we were attacked, I collected clothes and blankets,” says Dahwia, another grandmother in the camp. “We ran on foot, with no shoes. The skin of our feet was raw.”

Dahwia could run because her feet were not damaged by leprosy the way her hands were. The years had taken most of her fingers: “It started with one. Then when that finger was gone, the next finger started,” she remembers. “It happened each season—one more finger would go.”

Dahwia, Halima, and over 500 leprosy patients or their family members made it to Hassa Hissa, a camp for displaced people in central Darfur. Continue reading

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A decade in Darfur: challenges and progress

Our local partner trains residents of a camp for displaced people
in Darfur to repair water systems.[Laura Sheahen for ACT/Caritas]

 Ten years since the beginning of the crisis in Darfur, millions of people are still in need of humanitarian aid. We have been supporting projects in Darfur since 2004 as part of a major emergency programme organised by the two main international church-based networks, Caritas Internationalis and Action by Churches Together Alliance. 

Laura Sheahen recently visited Darfur on behalf of Caritas. She writes:

“When we first came here, we were getting water from the valley, seven kilometers away.” Muhammad is a long-time resident of a camp in Darfur for people who fled violence. He remembers what it was like nearly a decade ago, when thousands of desperate people first arrived. “Farmers were settled closer to the valley, so we couldn’t live where the water was. But when we went to get water, they helped us.”

Ten years later, hundreds of thousands of people remain in Darfur’s camps. They’d like to go back to their villages, but until they can, Caritas-funded programmes are making sure they can live in dignity. 2013 marks 10 years of keeping vulnerable Darfuris alive and making their lives better. Continue reading

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World Humanitarian Day: when disaster occurs, we will be there

To mark World Humanitarian Day on 19 August, Nyika Musiyazwiriyo, our Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Horn and East Africa Region, reflects on a recent trip to a refugee camp in South Sudan.

“I have never seen so much death in my life,” said Abdullahi. “There are people and tents all over. There is overcrowding. There is no work, no money and no prospect of making money. Our biggest problems are illnesses – diarrhoea, malaria, eye diseases – a shortage of food, a lack of money and a lack of clothing.”

I met Abdullahi a few weeks ago in Jamam refugee camp in South Sudan, where I was carrying out an emergency needs assessment for CAFOD. Abdullahi and his family were forced to leave their village in Blue Nile State, Sudan, because of heavy fighting and the threat of being bombed. They walked for days, in fear of their lives, before getting a lift to the border with South Sudan.

The conditions they found in Jamam refugee camp were shocking. There is overcrowding, poor sanitation, flooding, and a lack of food and medicine. Diarrhoea and malaria are rife, and children are dying needlessly from these preventable illnesses.

More than 30,000 refugees are living in Jamam, and at least 70,000 are in other nearby camps. Many of the refugees were already malnourished when they arrived, having walked for weeks with virtually no food.  The statistics are chilling: nine children are reported to be dying every day in Jamam alone.

I met Abdullahi’s wife Jamila, who had malaria – the medicine she’d received at the camp clinic didn’t seem to be working. Their five-year-old daughter, sharing the same tent, was even more seriously ill.

“The camp clinics are trying their best, but people are dying.” Abdullahi told me. “When someone goes to the clinic, they don’t return. Back at home people used to die, but not at the rate which we are witnessing here.”

Meeting Abdullahi made me reflect on what it means to be a humanitarian worker. Continue reading

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Darfur’s Solar Powers…

Water attendant Adam feeding the Solar Water point at Deleij camp in Darfur

Hazel Williams is our humanitarian coordinator for Darfur in western Sudan. She recently paid a visit to some of the many camps that house people who have fled fighting in the region.

Solar power is making an extraordinary difference in camps in Darfur, Sudan, by providing much needed water to those living there. 

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