UN Fears Disease Outbreaks as Darfur Camp Remains Inaccessible

A woman from the Kalma refugee camp, which has been recently closed to aid groups. Outbreak of infectious disease could soon erupt there, according to the United Nations. Photo by: Evan Schneider / UN

Outbreaks of infectious diseases, including malaria, could soon erupt in a Darfur refugee camp that has been closed off to aid groups, the U.N. warns.

The Sudanese government barred U.N. agencies and non-governmental organizations from the Kalma camp in Darfur, accusing the U.N.-African Union Mission in the area of failing to keep the peace. Tensions rose in Kalma July 25 following clashes between supporters and opponents of Darfur peace talks hosted by Qatar.

Health professionals who previously operated a health care facility in Kalma are on standby in nearby Nyala, where they await permission to re-enter the camp. Aid workers have also been banned from providing food aid to more than 80,000 internally displaced people living in the camp.

UNAMID said the risk of disease outbreaks within the camp is high because of heavy rains in the region, pools of stagnant water inside the camp and lack of adequate shelter and bed nets.

“The last food distribution would have been at the beginning of July. Blanket feeding for children under five was scheduled to start at the beginning of August, and general food distribution this week, but it has all been prevented by lack of access to the settlement,” according to Samuel Hendricks, the spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Darfur.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.