02-11-2023 | di COOPI
Sudan, 50,000 displaced people along border with Chad without assistance and basic services
In six months 9,000 people were killed and 6 million displaced. In Darfur, ethnic cleansing nightmare returns: half a million flee to Chad but camps are overcrowded and lack food, water and services
About 50,000 people have been surviving for months in informal settlements, without any assistance or basic services, in eastern Chad bordering Sudan, from which they fled war and inter-ethnic violence. They are 70% women and children and their numbers are expected to increase as refugee camps are overcrowded and other large numbers of displaced people are massed at the border, blocked by swollen rivers and militias. The estimate is from COOPI - Cooperazione Internazionale, one of the few NGOs intervening in Sudan and areas of the region affected by the crisis which began on April 15, 2023 and is driving millions of people to flee. In addition to intervening in refugee camps, COOPI also operates in informal settlements, which have not previously been reached by any assistance. Since the first clashes between military factions in Khartoum, as the violence quickly spread and still shows no signs of abating, six million people have been forced to flee. A situation that goes far beyond Sudan's national borders, affecting neighboring countries, especially Chad where more than half a million people have arrived so far.
Europe and the wealthy part of the world have their eyes elsewhere, but an unprecedented tragedy is unfolding in the Sudanese region that needs to be contained immediately, not least to prevent further escalation,
said Ennio Miccoli, director of COOPI, at this year's COOPI Meeting in Milan, which focused on ongoing 'polycrisis' and emergencies.
Six months after the clashes began, the provisional U.N. toll speaks of at least 9,000 people killed "in one of the worst humanitarian nightmares in recent history," in the words of Martin Griffith, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 4.5 million people are internally displaced in Sudan, while 1.3 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries, mostly in Chad (508 thousand), Egypt (323 thousand), and South Sudan (315 thousand). In addition, 25 million people, or more than half of Sudan's 48 million, are in need of humanitarian aid.
Clashes and ethnic violence in Darfur are causing a new exodus. While refugee camps are overcrowded, the 50,000 people displaced at the border in the eastern Chadian region of Sila have nothing, often not even a tarp to build a shelter or safe access to water,
says Marcelo Garcia Dalla Costa, head of COOPI's Emergencies Unit. He adds:
It's a crisis within a crisis: after witnessing atrocities and brutality, these people are in urgent need of basic goods and services, from food to health care.
In Darfur, southwestern Sudan, the political crisis and clashes between military factions have been intertwined with a new wave of ethnic cleansing against ethnic Masalit people by the Rapid Support Forces (Rsf) and ethnic Janjaweed Arab militias. Twenty years ago in Darfur, more than 300,000 people were murdered, 2.5 million were displaced and hundreds of thousands were victims of rape, destruction and attacks.
What started as a conflict between two military formations could be morphing into a full-blown civil war,
said Volker Perthes, U.N. special representative for Sudan, who had already sounded the alarm about "large-scale targeted violence against civilians on the basis of ethnic identity," with massacres and sexual violence that "could constitute crimes against humanity." So much so that the International Criminal Court prosecutor's office in July announced an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Prior to April, some 3.7 million people lived in Sudan as internally displaced persons, mostly in Darfur, where, according to the UN, the largest number of internally displaced persons in the world now live, as well as the fastest growing. Just from Darfur, more than 400,000 refugees have arrived in eastern Chad, rising to 600,000 by the end of the year. About 130 thousand live in the camps of Djabal, Goz Amir and Zaboud, and in the informal camp of Kerfi. Among them, more than 60 thousand are "returnees," that is, people originally from Chad who had moved to Sudan, and 93 percent of them are women and children. Tens of thousands live instead in makeshift, overcrowded shelters without basic services and assistance around the towns of Tissi, Deguessa, Andressa and Mogororo.
Balancing with the local population over the use of already scarce resources is difficult: in March, the number of people living in Deguessa was 3,000, now there are 12,000. In addition, thousands more are trapped near the border: road conditions and the inability to cross temporary rivers prevent them from crossing. When they reach Chad, the situation will get even more dramatic. Critical conditions are also occurring at the borders of other countries neighboring Sudan. South Sudan, according to the UN, has been crossed by 30 thousand Sudanese and 266 thousand "returnees": tens of thousands remain stranded awaiting relocation, prevented from leaving by lack of funds and seasonal rains, in precarious and deteriorating conditions. On the border with Ethiopia, poor security conditions hamper movement and outbreaks of cholera and malaria have been reported.
COOPI, present in the Chadian province of Sila since 1997, focuses its activities on the areas of Zaboud, Adde Mour, and Deguessa. In Zabud camp, it has built six Child Friendly Spaces to provide psychological and psychosocial services to severely traumatized children and women, and has distributed 1,960 basic necessities and 850 hygiene kits, implementing an awareness campaign on children's rights and against sexual abuse. In Tissi, as in other areas, COOPI noted the complete absence of aid workers, thus distributing non-food aid such as soap, mosquito nets, jerry cans, and building latrines to curb the risk of disease.
In Sudan, COOPI has been present since 2004 to support the most vulnerable groups in the areas of North Darfur, Kassala, and Khartoum with interventions in food security, water, health and sanitation, risk and disaster reduction, and protection. In the provinces of Gedaref and North Darfur it has in recent months assisted displaced people with non-food aid. It is also working on new projects in the White Nile area and around Khartoum, where refugees fleeing the capital have been arriving in high numbers.
To support activities in the region, COOPI has launched a fundraising campaign. Donations can be made to:
Postal account 990200
Bank account IBAN IT 89 A 05018 01600 000011023694
made out to COOPI - Cooperazione Internazionale Ong, onlus
reason for payment: Sudan Crisiis
Online donations: dona.coopi.org/emergenza_sudan/