6 Mar 2014
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Tens of thousands of people in southern Darfur’s largest camp received improved access to health and nutrition services, thanks to a grant from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF.)

In April 2013, 50,000 people fleeing inter-tribal violence poured into Kalma Camp. The collapsing stick-and-thatch medical shelter in Sector 8—the area where the bulk of new arrivals settled—was immediately overwhelmed.

The new influx of people saw the camp’s population swell to 132,000 in a matter of weeks, said Evariste Sindayigaya, the Sudan Country Director of the American Refugee Council (ARC,) an NGO that has provided life-saving medical help in Kalma since 2004.

Evariste explained that Kalma Camp’s local administration, community groups, Sudan’s Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization jointly identified the lack of basic health care as one of the most critical problems facing Kalma residents after the influx, especially those living in Sector 8.

A new medical facility

With funds from CERF and other donors, ARC was able to open a new medical facility in Sector 8, bringing health-and-nutrition services closer to more than 32,000 of its new residents.

“Before the clinic was built, there were no health services in Sector 8. Vulnerable new IDPs (internally displaced persons), including people with disabilities, the elderly, women and children, had no access to primary health care,” said Evariste.

Seventy-year-old Kadija Musa Issa agrees. She arrived in Kalma Camp in 2013 after losing her son to an unknown illness and now takes care of his three children–her grandchildren.

“Before, there was nothing ... today I came here to seek treatment for myself and my grandchildren. This changed my life,” she said.

A year of mass displacement

More than 300,000 people in Darfur were displaced by inter- and intra-tribal fighting and violence between the Sudanese Armed Forces and armed movements in 2013. This figure exceeds the number of displacements in 2011 and 2012 combined.

To help ease the strain on already stretched resources in camps throughout the country, CERF allocated over US$8 million to six UN agencies in November 2013 to help more than 1.6 million people. WHO received part of the allocation ($472,000) to ensure primary health services through partners such as ARC.

“Without CERF funds, ARC wouldn’t have met the basic needs of the new arrivals [at Kalma Camp],” Evariste said. “Access to health services—especially maternal and child health—is a right, no matter the circumstances.”