One Child Dying Every Two Hours in North Darfur’s ZamZam Camp

One Child Dying Every Two Hours in North Darfur’s ZamZam Camp


What You Need to Know:

International humanitarian medical aid charity, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders has today released a damning report on the scale of Sudan’s humanitarian crisis since fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out in April 2023. 

ZamZam Refugee camp, located in Al Fasher, North Darfur State is facing a catastrophic malnutrition crisis. Claire Nicolet, head of MSF’s emergency response in Sudan states, the “current estimate is that there are around 13 child deaths each day. Those with severe malnutrition who have not yet died are at high risk of dying within three to six weeks if they do not get treatment. Their condition is treatable if they can get to a health facility. But many cannot.” 

The History:

As previously stated in prior reporting, the ousting of President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, in a joint move by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), resulted in a power struggle between the RSF’s Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and the SAF’s Abdel Fattah Burhan. A series of attempts to transition to civilian rule followed, with each attempt being delayed by both Dagalo and Burhan. 

In December 2020, following pressure from the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a deal was signed between the two de-facto leaders on the implementation of a transitional government in April of 2023. 

As a part of the deal, the RSF was to be integrated into the SAF over a two year period. However, Dagalo sought to integrate his forces into the SAF over a ten year period. 

Sudan’s current conflict is a result of this disagreement between Dagalo and Burhan, and has since resulted in the displacement of nearly 8 million Sudanese civilians. Furthermore, the United Nations claims around 12,000 people have been killed since violence broke out in early 2023. 

The Details:

Contributing to the crisis is the complete collapse of North Darfur’s health system. MSF’s paediatric clinic has just 78 beds to provide for 11 million people in urgent need of care, while its staff have been working without pay and limited supplies. 

Increased insecurity, forcing civilians to flee their homes has made it impossible for crops to be tended to, further contributing to the food crisis. 

The United Nations Commission of Human Rights has claimed that 25 million Sudanese, with 14 million of those being children, are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. 

Further contributing to the crisis is the inability of World Food Programme (WFP) trucks to make it to their destinations due to heavy fighting between SAF and RSF forces, particularly in Khartoum, Darfur, and Kordofan. Additionally, roadblocks set up by SAF and RSF forces hamper the movement of WFP aid trucks as oftentimes staff are forced to pay a fee to continue to their destinations, where they still risk falling victim to attack. 

Food Trucks in Limbo: 

Currently, the WFP is only able to deliver regular food assistance to one in ten people in urgent need. Last week, 70 aid trucks carrying enough food to feed 500,000 people received clearance to leave Port Sudan after a month of waiting. Similarly, 31 WFP trucks have been unable to disembark from El Obeid for three months. 

WFP Sudan Representative and Country Director in Sudan, Eddie Rowe has said in a statement, “Every single one our trucks need to be on the road each and every day delivering food to the Sudanese people, who are traumatized and overwhelmed after over nine months of horrifying conflict. Yet life-saving assistance is not reaching those who need it the most, and we are already receiving reports of people dying of starvation. 

Both parties to this gruesome conflict must look beyond the battlefield and allow aid organizations to operate. For that, we need the uninhibited freedom of movement, including across conflict lines, to help people who so desperately need it right now, regardless of where they are.” 


Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.
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