“Sea Change of Improvement in Humanitarian Access” in Sudan? Where’s the Evidence

“Cholera breeding grounds such as this are increasingly common during the current rainy season in Darfur.” Photo: sudanreeves.org

By Eric Reeves

July 15, 2017 (SSNA) — If there has been a “sea change in improvement in humanitarian access” in Sudan, as the outgoing Obama administration claimed in justifying its initiation of the process for lifting U.S. economic sanctions on the genocidal Khartoum regime, why do we continue to see headlines such as these on such a regular basis? Is the absence of humanitarian presence in these areas of Darfur a lack of capacity on the part of the UN and international nongovernmental humanitarian organizations? Or, as a number of INGO’s report, is it because Khartoum still restricts access to many hundreds of thousands of people? To ask the question is to answer it. And why is there still no yielding by Khartoum on humanitarian access, especially food, to starving civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile? Why is the continuing humanitarian embargo so rarely mentioned? By the U.S., the UN, the African Union, and other international actors of consequence.

In the case of the UN, the failure is compounded by the refusal of the UN World Health Organization, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and UNICEF to use the word “cholera”—this in deference to the sensibilities of the Khartoum regime, which perversely refuses to use or allow use of the word “cholera.” The health consequences of this shameful acquiescence are massive and growing.  Resources to address the country-wide cholera epidemic are most conspicuously absent in Darfur:

A growing number of children and elderly are malnourished at Darfur camps for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) due to the reduction of food rations provided by the World Food Programme (WFP), said IDPs official. In its weekly bulletin on 24 June, the U.N Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said a recent survey conducted by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) found critical levels of acute malnutrition in Jebel Marra…. The humanitarian official at the Darfur Refugees and IDPs Association Salih Idris told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that “malnutrition cases among children and the elderly are growing continuously.”

On Monday six people died at Kabkabiya hospital in North Darfur of cholera, while on Tuesday the isolation centre reported 18 new cases of the disease, bringing the total number of hospitalised cases to 28. More deaths and infections have been reported from across Sudan. The Coordinator of Kabkabiya camps told Radio Dabanga that four of the dead were displaced persons residing at El Salam, Midan El Kheil and Hay El Salam camps, while the other two were residing in the western and northern areas of Kabkabiya. The Coordinator said that the Minister of Health of North Darfur visited the isolation centre in Kabkabiya hospital on Tuesday. On Tuesday the number of hospitalised cases of cholera at the medical isolation centre of camp Zamzam in North Darfur amounted to eight. The Coordinator of Zamzam camps told Radio Dabanga that the patients are suffering of lack of light in the isolation centre. He pointed out that there is only one medical assistant for all infection cases in the hospital. He said the local authorities have not responded to their repeated demands to spray the camp and specify the health centre for cases of cholera.

A women died in labour in a village near Deribat in East Jebel Marra on Wednesday. There was no adequate medical care or an ambulance available. The woman died in Talba, north of Deribat, in the most mountainous area of Darfur. One of her relatives told Radio Dabanga that there was no adequate medical care, or an ambulance to transport her to El Fasher. “There has been a lack of health facilities in Jebel Marra recently. This causes an increase in the mortality rates of pregnant women and women in labour in this area,” he said. Medical sources reported that health services are “entirely absent” in large parts of East Jebel Marra, while the government of South Darfur continues to deny medics access to the area.

In 2015, the federal Ministry of Health in South Darfur reported it has the highest maternal mortality rate in Sudan, without the government being able to reduce the figures.

Medical sources in South Darfur reported that more than 30 people died of cholera and at least 50 others have been infected in East Jebel Marra locality during the first week of July. The disease has spread to Liba, Jasu, Fugouli, Rakona, Dolda, Sawani, Duwo, and Fina, they said. The sources confirmed that health services are “entirely absent” in large parts of East Jebel Marra, while the government of South Darfur continues to deny medics access to the area. They called on the federal health authorities, the international community, especially the World Health Organisation, to act to allow health actors access to the locality to save the lives of people.

Darfur, Kordofan

In North Darfur, eight people died of cholera in the Kabkabiya camps for the displaced over the weekend. The coordinator of the Kabkabiya camps reported that two children died on Friday, four adults died on Saturday, and two on Sunday. He said that there are 16 patients currently being treated in Kabkabiya Hospital. A number of patients recovered and left the hospital. The hospital of Ed Daein, capital of East Darfur, is receiving at least five cases of cholera daily. In the area of Labado two cholera cases were reported, a doctor told this station.

The medical isolation centre of the El Baraka administrative unit in Sheikan locality in North Kordofan received two cholera patients last week.

Nine people died of cholera in Murnei camp in West Darfur this week. Three people died in Kabkabiya on Wednesday. In Murnei, nine displaced people died, and at least seventeen others were infected with cholera, the head of the camp reported on Sunday. “The disease begun to spread in the beginning of this month, but intensified, with four patients who died on Monday.” On Wednesday, two people infected with cholera died in Murnei. The next day three cholera patients passed away. “The total number of hospitalised cholera cases amounted to seventeen people, among them patients who are in a life-threatening situation.”

East Darfur

One person died of cholera and four others were infected at Khazan Jadeed area in Shearia, East Darfur, on Wednesday. Omda Jaafar told Radio Dabanga that the medical isolation centre has seen eight patients die from cholera since the disease broke out in the area on 6 June.

He said that so far there had been 102 cases of cholera. 88 people recovered from the disease. Fourteen are still being treated. “I am concerned about the increase in the number of cases because of the residents’ dependence on drinking water, which is unsafe.”

North Darfur

Three people who were infected with cholera died on Wednesday in Kabkabiya. The number of dead in the local hospital has risen to eighteen patients. Six others were also hospitalised that day. The patients come from Wadi Bari village, a witness told Radio Dabanga.

Yesterday, one of the sheikhs of Zamzam camp, south of El Fasher, reported that they received two new cases, two women of 27 years and 37 years old.

Eric Reeves is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights.

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  • “Sea Change of Improvement in Humanitarian Access” in Sudan? Where’s the Evidence – Our South Sudan
    July 15, 2017 9:08 pm

    […] post “Sea Change of Improvement in Humanitarian Access” in Sudan? Where’s the Evidence appeared first on South Sudan News […]


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