13 March 2019

Sudan: Darfur - Measles, Dysentery, Pneumonia, and Eye Infections Spreading Fast in Jebel Marra

Jebel Marra — The Sudan Liberation Movement headed by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) has renewed its appeal to local, regional, and international organisations to intervene to save the lives of people living in Jebel Marra against rapidly spreading measles, dysentery, pneumonia, and eye infections.

Mohamed Abdallah, the official of the health unit in Turung Tawra in the southern part of Jebel Tawra reported that they have closed schools in the area to combat the infection of the students and teachers with the disease and to prevent the spread of the epidemic.

Dr Abdelaziz Adam, head of the health office in the Jebel Marra areas under control of the SLM-AW, reported the deaths of dozens and hundreds of those diseases because of the shortage of medicines and medical staff. He also said that the regime blockades access or delivery of any medicines, and government forces arrest any traders coming to Jebel Marra under the emergency law.

He called for pressure on Khartoum regime to allow the entry of medicines and the humanitarian organisation for the relief of patients and to prevent a humanitarian disaster and the fall of more victims.

'Acute watery diarrhoea'

The Legitimate Sudan Doctors Union pointed to the frequency of information that there are many cases of acute watery diarrhoea (often a sign of cholera) in the area of Libei in eastern Jebel Marra.

It explained that the region suffers from a complete collapse of health facilities and public health systems. It pointed to reports of the arrival of a large number of cases to various hospitals in East Darfur for nearly two weeks now, accusing authorities of covering up the disease.

The union warned of the seriousness of the outbreak of the epidemic in the region, pointing to the overcrowding of the people affected by the war in the displaced camps.

It called on the humanitarian organisations working in Darfur and the WHO office in Sudan to conduct epidemiological investigation of the source of ill health, care for the infected and provide vaccines for those exposed to the disease.

Agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Central Darfur arrested 35-year-old nurse Mousa Ahmed Ali from inside a clinic in Turr in southern Jebel Marra.

A member of Ali's family told Radio Dabanga that a security force in two vehicles came from Nierteti on Sunday morning and held the nurse from inside a clinic in Turr and took him to Nierteti without giving any explanation.

He expressed concern that Ali might be tortured or ill-treated and demanded his immediate release.

Jebel Marra access

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan, during the first half of 2018, some 15,000 people were newly displaced in Darfur, all of which was in and from Jebel Marra. In Radio Dabanga's ongoing reporting on the renewed heavy clashes in Darfur's Jebel Marra, the SLM-AW was the only armed movement reported to be involved in the fighting.

The mountainous Jebel Marra is the only place in Darfur where armed opposition maintains prolonged control over territory and the only area in Darfur to which humanitarian organisations had no access between 2011 and 2015. For this reason, access restrictions have been put in place by Khartoum for government- and rebel-controlled areas.

As the latest periodic report by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to the UN Security Council of January 14 pointed out: "Notwithstanding sustained and positive engagement between state authorities and Unamid, corroborating reports on human rights incidents in Central Darfur continued to be a challenge."

In September 2018, however, the SLM-AW announced a ceasefire to facilitate access and relief aid to a landslide-affected area in East Jebel Marra. Abdelgader Gadoura, commander-in-chief of the movement, said in November that although the SLM-AW has declared a ceasefire, the regime has continued to breach the agreement.

Peace process

The SLM-AW, that, together with the Justice and Equality Movement took up arms against the Khartoum government in 2002-03, has witnessed a number of splits. The largest one was the breakaway of a group led by Minni Minawi in 2006. They were divided on the issue of the Darfur Peace Agreement.

Still, Abdelwahid El Nur and his movement resolutely refuse to enter into talks or negotiations with the Khartoum government. Last month, the head of the Unamid Joint Special Representative (JSR), Jeremiah Mamabolo, renewed his appeal to the holdout rebel leader to join the peace process.

Mamabolo's remarks drew sharp criticism from the heads of Darfur's armed movements. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Movement faction led by Arko Minni Minawi (SLM-MM), the opposition Sudanese Congress Party, and Abdelwahid El Nur himself, all strongly criticised Mamabolo, accusing him of exceeding his mandate.

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