07 Aug 13 08 Dec 16

Sudan: Dozens killed in Darfur violence

Press release

Dozens of people have been killed and an estimated 50,000[1] have fled into Chad during months of violence in central Darfur, a Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) report reveals. Witnesses describe attacks in which people were shot, and villages looted and burnt to the ground.

In the past week, MSF has treated 30 new victims of violence – including 13 with gunshot wounds – in Tissi, Chad, which is the main destination for the refugees. It is the largest wave of wounded MSF has seen in the last two months.

Deaths caused by gunshot

According to an in-depth study, conducted with thousands of refugees in neighbouring Chad and released today, most deaths were reported to have taken place within Darfur and two thirds of these deaths were due to violence. More than nine out of ten of the violent deaths were caused by gunshot wounds.

One of the worst attacks was in the village of Abugaradil, where at least 71 people were reported to have been killed in April.

“I was in Abugaradil when I saw vehicles entering,” said Sadam*, a 33 year-old refugee who arrived in Tissi, Chad, in April. “I was hit by a stray bullet which entered my right arm. Many villagers were killed. My brothers put me in a cart and carried me for one and a half hours to reach the hospital in Tissi.”

MSF first received reports of displacements in early March during a yellow fever vaccination campaign in the Goz Beida district of Chad. Their teams started providing emergency medical care, shelter materials, clean water and hygiene items in the Tissi area a few weeks later.

Epidemiological report

MSF’s epidemiological research branch, Epicentre, conducted a retrospective mortality survey in Haraza and Tissi settlements from 9th to 18th May. Information was collected from more than 15,000 people, evenly divided between Dafuri refugees and Chadians returning home.

The report highlights that 61 percent of the 194 reported deaths were caused by violence, most of them (111 out of 119) by gunshots and linked to specific episodes of violence preceding the two major waves of displacements, one in early February and the other in early April.

The vast majority of refugees interviewed by MSF in Tissi came from Abugaradil. They reported 71 violent deaths for this one village when it was attacked between 2nd and 9th April.

“These results characterise an episode of acute violence in Abugaradil and raise serious concerns over the humanitarian situation in the area,” says Delphine Chedorge, MSF emergency coordinator.

From June to September, the rains isolate most of the Tissi area and aid operations have to be scaled down. An MSF team has nevertheless remained in Tissi town and continues to receive and treat patients.

*Name has been changed

 Notes to the editor

  • Intercommunal fighting in Darfur during the first half of 2013 caused 30,000 Sudanese refugees and 20,000 Chadian refugees to flee from Sudan to Tissi, Chad
  • A retrospective mortality survey among displaced people in three sites close to Haraza and Tissi were carried out between 9th and 18th May, 2013. Recall period was from 24th January to the date of the survey. 15,304 people were surveyed, of whom 50.7 percent were returnees and 49.3 percent were refugees.
  • The crude mortality rate during the survey period was 1.20 per 10,000 per day. For women, 0.44/10,000/day, and for men, 2.03/10,000/day. For the under-fives, the rate reached 1.28/10,000/day, and the under 15s, 1.84/10,000/day. The emergency threshold is 1.0.
  • Violence was the reported cause of 61.3 percent of deaths, rising to 83.5 percent in those older than 15. Of the 119 violent deaths reported among the returnees and the refugees, families reported that 111 (93.3 percent) were killed by gunshot wounds; the other 3.4 percent by other weapons and 2.5 by fire.
  • Families reported that 23 deaths had occurred after arrival in Chad. There is no evidence of excessive mortality rates in the camps in Chad themselves.
  • 57.4 percent of the people surveyed were under 15 years of age. There are fewer men aged 15-40 than there are women of the same age.

MSF in Chad

MSF has worked in Chad for more than 30 years, and in addition to emergency response operations, the organisation runs regular projects in Abeche, Massakory, Am Timan and Moïssala.

Find out more about MSF's work in Chad

Interviewees are available and a copy of the report is available on request. For more information or for interviews, please contact Sandra Smiley, MSF UK Press Officer, on +44 7889 178 472 or sandra.smiley@london.msf.org.

[1] Source: UNHCR, 2013

Press release