Little refuge from Darfur’s insecurity; ministry offers hope

By June 5, 2007

Sudan (MNN) — In Darfur, nearby towns have become a makeshift place of refuge from insecurity and militia attacks. Operation Blessing International's David Darg spoke with us from one such town, Kass.

With the fighting, thousands fled the war-torn Darfur area and made for the settlement situated roughly 2 1/2 hours northwest of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, in the western part of the Sudan.

The town's original population of 30,000 has swelled by an extra 43,000 displaced people, which is causing humanitarian problems. "In a city, you can't just dig a bore hole for water. You can't just put a latrine up for the people to use. So the hygiene situation is probably the worst thing that the people are facing right now. Operation Blessing is responding to that through the clinics that we're setting up in the city. We're receiving about 250 patients every day." 

Clinics like this one have been repeated by OBI throughout the larger and more notorious camps in Darfur. El Sheriff is one model of success. A partnership between OBI and Humedica established an infrastructure in Darfur by operating medical and educational services for the 15,000-person refugee camp.

There, the primary healthcare clinic, which treats an average of 200 people a day, also offers a 24-hour midwife delivery service, health education program, and a vaccination program.

Since opening the clinic, the camp's birth mortality rate for mothers and children has dropped to zero percent, and there has been a significant decrease in the number of deaths due to disease and infection.

There is hope that similar successes will be repeated in the area. In Kass, there are 13 camps, each named after the school whose property they occupy. These are a small reflection of the population movement over the past four years in the region.

Civil unrest in Sudan has forcibly displaced more than 2.5 million people and sent them fleeing to IDP (Internally Displaced Person) camps scattered throughout Darfur. Many camps are bursting at the seams as OBI and others look to increase their efforts to provide medical care for the dense population living in the camps and surrounding villages.

Darg says they're laying the groundwork for future ministry. "There are quite stringent rules in place about our openness with our faith, but we hope that the love that we're offering to the people through the work that we do will leave behind a legacy of compassion. Once we're done and this situation is all over, I truly believe that these people will know that we were there for them in their time of trouble."

As part of their mission, OBI seeks to exemplify Christian compassion and benevolence while conforming to the highest standards of integrity. The seeds are planted; pray that believers will be ready to cultivate the harvest.

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