Sudan

Sudan: Medical teams return to Darfur's no go zone

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Following an intensive review of security procedures, Merlin has been able to increase the number of mobile and fixed clinics it operates

Merlin is scaling up its operation in Darfur in response to increasingly desperate health needs. The move follows a period of several months in which escalating violence had forced aid agencies to suspend many vital projects helping displaced people.

Two million people have lost their homes during the violent four-year conflict in this province of Sudan. Most are now living in makeshift camps with little or no access to health care.

Merlin is one of the few agencies providing health care in the south of the region. From its base in the town of Nyala, medical teams reach out to more than 400,000 people through a network of permanent clinics at sites such as Sanyafundu, Seleah and Hijer. Mobile clinics travel out to more remote camps where people face malnutrition and are at high risk from diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria, meningitis, and pneumonia.

In December, Merlin was forced to temporarily suspend much of its operations as it was unable to guard against increasing threats to the safety of its staff. However, in April, after a total review of operational challenges and the level of humanitarian need, Merlin began re-establishing its clinics.

"The health care situation is dire and we felt it was essential to return," said Linda Edwards, Merlin's Country Director in Sudan. "The longer people live in these conditions the more compounded the health problems can become and so urgent response is vital".