A badly shortened growing season, a widespread outbreak of a hemorrhagic fever, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people may not seem like news anymore, the way things are going in the world today. But you have to remember that in the case of Darfur, these things are happening in a cycle of mass displacement and insecurity that has been going on nonstop since at least 2003, and that the people to which these things are happening are among the most resilient on the planet (they farm in an impoverished, semidesert part of the world). Only a catastrophe could hold such people back to the extent you learn about via UN reports, Radio Dabanga and other sources.
What would it take to drive you from your home? It would have to be something terrible. Now imagine if you were a farmer in a poor area in which land and livestock are among the most important and stable forms of security. What would it take to drive you from your land that is not only your home, but also your bank and your grocery store?
Below is a summary of the latest update on Sudan from the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
223,000 Darfuris have been displaced since the beginning of January.
Infections and deaths from measles and severe dengue fever (which is a hemorrhagic fever in about 5% of those who carry the virus) have been confirmed in all five Darfur states, with 1,382 confirmed measles cases and 51 deaths and, since late August, 227 cases of dengue fever and 110 deaths. Additional funding is still needed for plans to provide measles follow-up vaccinations (usually vaccinations for this disease are administered in two doses) and preventing mosquitoes (which, along with humans, transmit the dengue fever virus) from biting (via nets, repellents, protective clothing) and breeding (covering water storage containers, destroying breeding areas in or near households).
Because of the late start to the rainy season this year, the growing time for crops (and a time of doing without food more than usual) continued until early November, according the Famine Early Warning System Network (ordinarily harvest begins about a month earlier). But with less time to grow crops, yields will be below average, with many households in Darfur having to spend money on food, money that would otherwise be used to by essential non-food items; it is estimated that many households will have to rely on food aid in order not to suffer situations worse than this. And in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur, households are likely to have very limited access to earning money for food at all (this mountainous area in the middle of the region is a stronghold of the rebels, which the government and its allied militias have attacked repeatedly). And over the last two months nearly five thousand civilians from Jebel Marra have returned to their home areas only to find their towns burned away. So they need everything a town normally provides: shelter, food, health, education and even agricultural assistance.
For details on any of the above, see UNOCHA’s Humanitarian Bulletin Sudan for November 2 through 8: