Michael Omidi discusses the violence in Sudan, and the toll it has taken on the thousands of refugees who are now living a dangerous existence in undersupplied refugee camps.
For the past 10 years, Sudan has experienced violent internal conflict over rights to oil reserves and gold mines, and even the rights of non-Arab citizens, many of whom – it has been alleged – have been captured and sold into slavery by Arab militias as far back as the early 1990s. There had been an inkling of hope that a resolution could be achieved recently, as thousands of displaced Sudanese who had been languishing in refugee camps began to stream back into the townships in order to reassume their lives. However, there has been a spike in fighting within the past few months, and now hundreds of thousands of Sudanese find themselves shunted into overburdened refugee camps with nothing but the meager provisions they managed to salvage after being ejected from their homes by government-sponsored militias.
The camps are speckled with refugees that have occupied them for so long that they have erected semi-permanent dwellings. The aid is stretched so thin that the refugees are not guaranteed access to even clean water. Foraging is incredibly dangerous; women who venture out for fire wood or provisions are all too frequently assaulted and raped. Medical care is sparse at best; diseases ravage the camps, and with little food or clean water, the residents do not have the physical stamina to withstand the bacterial onslaught.
The amount of humanitarian aid has diminished significantly, as the conflicts in Syria have overtaken the strife in Darfur in the headlines, and United Nations representatives acknowledge a degree of “donor fatigue.” Many camp residents have languished in their makeshift living spaces for nearly the length of the conflict.
The situation in Darfur, as it is in much of Sudan and South Sudan, is dire. There are new rebel groups sprouting up all the time, contributing to the violent unrest. The exact number of people who were killed in the decade-plus long conflict isn’t exactly known; the United Nations estimates the death toll at several hundred thousand, while the Sudanese government insists that it is closer to 10,000.
The United Nations and the local humanitarian officials are pleading for additional funding. The situation is exceptionally difficult for women, who, in addition to suffering from the expected hardships of living in an impoverished camp with no amenities, are often victims of sexual assault and extreme violence. It is critically important to continue offering assistance to the refugees and all those who have suffered as a result from this violence, and we at No More Poverty hope with all our hearts that the world will step up and help the thousands of people who so desperately need it.
 Kushkusk, Isma’il: New Strife in Darfur Leaves Many Seeking Refuge 5/23/2013 New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/24/world/africa/new-strife-in-darfur-leaves-many-seeking-refuge.html?ref=africa&_r=0