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Sudan: Desperate malnutrition crisis in Zamzam camp, North Darfur

People board a truck as they leave Khartoum, Sudan, on June 19, 2023.   -  
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Displaced people living in the Zamzam camp in North Darfur are suffering from high levels of malnutrition amid insufficient humanitarian aid almost one year since the violence began.

Some 300,000 people displaced by the war in Sudan are living in difficult conditions in the camp, located 15 kilometres (nine miles) south of El Fasher, the capital of the state.

Children are the most affected by the poor conditions due to lack of care and food.

Manazir Bakhit Ahmed said that they have received "nothing" since arriving to the camp. She added that they used to have food cards, but now even these have stopped, leaving them with no food.

Masajed Ahmed Basher, a displaced person at the camp, described her experience with her sick child.

She said that most hospitals have been closed because of the conflict, meaning that the nearest hospital is two and a half hours away.

This has made it difficult for her to get treatment for her son.

"He is still sick,” she said.

Jean Guy Vataux, chief of the MÉDECINS SANS FRONTIÈRES (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) mission in Sudan, described the situation as "truly catastrophic."

He said that the mortality rate at the camp was "almost ten times" higher than what was expected and two and a half times higher than the emergency rate.

Vataux also said that the nutritional situation at the camp was "not good," saying that one in four children are acutely malnourished whilst 7% are in a state of severe acute malnutrition.

He added that these malnourished children will die "within weeks" if left untreated.

MSF has called for the mass mobilisation of the international community and a rapid humanitarian response in order to save lives.

According to MSF, an estimated one child is dying every two hours from the malnutrition crisis in the Zamzam camp.

Sudan plunged into chaos last April with street battles between the generals’ rival forces in the capital, Khartoum, that spread to other areas.

Western Darfur, which was wracked by bloodshed and atrocities in 2003, has been an epicenter of the current conflict, an arena of ethnic violence where paramilitary troops and allied Arab militias have been attacking African ethnic groups.

Earlier in February, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the international community to mobilize and do everything possible to stop the war in Sudan.

He said it was time for the warring rivals - army general Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, general Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo - to start talking about ending the conflict, which has killed at least 12,000 people and sent over 7 million fleeing their homes.

According to MSF, since the start of the war in Sudan, 1.6 million people have fled the country seeking safety, including an estimated 610,000 who have crossed into Chad.

Humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi have appealed for $4.1 billion in international support for embattled civilians in Sudan.

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