Gunfire, fields alight and homes burning. Around 40,000 civilians have been forced from their homes in the eastern region of South Darfur in the pastmonth.
By Charlotte Brudenell, ACT-Caritas field communicator
Ed Daein, South Darfur,Sudan –Under the scant shade of a small thorn tree, Musa’s family prepares a meal of millet and sorghum flour. Musa’s elderly mother lies by the cooking pot, in the hot midday sun, exhausted and inconsolably sad. The small thorn tree is now their home, and the meal is being prepared from the only provisions Musa’s family was able to bring with them from their village, Um Gabo.
Since early November, armed militias have attacked and torched several villages north of Ed Daein town, forcing 20,000 to 30,000 civilians to flee their homes.
On November 13, Musa’s village was attacked.
Houses were looted and set on fire. Fields of crops were also set alight. People lost their homes, food and any means of supporting themselves.
Villagers fled in every direction, looking for safety. But not everyone managed to escape the attackers.
“As we traveled here, I saw 12 corpses being buried,” says Musa, who transported his family to Ed Daein with his horse and cart and two donkeys in search of refuge.
More than 6,000 people have arrived in Ed Daein in the past few days from Um Gabo and surrounding villages. The majority now shelters under thorn trees or with friends and relatives in El Neem camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), situated on the outskirts of town.
These new arrivals add to more than 300 families (some 1,500 people) who arrived in Ed Daein last week from the area of Shearia.
Another 20,000 civilians from the Shearia area fled their villages at the end of October as different armed groups clashed.
Most people fled to the nearby camps of Seleah and Yassin. However, due to a lack of water in Seleah camp, some families came to Ed Daein, hoping to access basic services.
ACT-Caritas is working closely with its local partner, Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO), to improve the provision of water for 2,000 people in Seleah camp for IDPs. Two water bladders are being set up, and a new generator for an existing water pump is being installed. Latrines are also being built, and emergency relief items have been distributed to 3,125 households that have recently arrived in the camp.
“The situation is quite sad,” said the ACT-Caritas emergency preparedness and response coordinator, Simon Egadu, who is currently leading a needs assessment of the area.
“Although the majority of people have now arrived, many are still arriving, bringing with them the few belongings they managed to grab,” he said.
ACT-Caritas and SUDO plan to distribute essential household items, including cooking sets, water containers, plastic sheeting and mats, mosquito nets and blankets.
For people like Musa’s mother and his young children, a blanket is essential to survive the cold nights of November through January.
However, blankets can provide only so much comfort and protection.