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Sudanese army shuns UN resolution as humanitarian crisis continues

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 05 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:310
  1. Karen Hébert
  1. London

    A spokesman for the Sudan's armed forces has warned that a UN Security Council resolution passed last week threatening to take measures against Sudan unless its government takes action to tackle the country's humanitarian crisis (19 June, p 1456) could result in a jihad.

    General Mohamed Beshir Suleiman told the Al Anbaa daily newspaper that, “The Security Council resolution about the Darfur issue is a declaration of war on the Sudan and its people. The Sudanese army is now prepared to confront the enemies of Sudan on land, sea, and air. The door of the jihad is still open.”

    Osman Al Said, Sudan's ambassador to the African Union, however, said, “Sudan is not happy with the Security Council resolution, but we will comply with it to the best of our ability.”

    The UN resolution, which includes the threat of economic penalties, restriction of transport and communications, and severance of diplomatic relations, comes days after Dr Rowan Gillies, international president of Médecins Sans Frontières, came to Europe to warn the world of the imminent humanitarian crisis in Darfur. He warned, “Darfur is an epidemic waiting to happen, and thousands of people will die in the next few weeks if the aid effort is not stepped up significantly.”

    Food deliveries are inadequate and uneven across Darfur. The rainy season over the next few months will make some areas “virtually inaccessible,” he said. A national survey of four refugee camps in May and June found severe malnutrition in 4-5% of the refugees.

    Dr Gillies worked in several refugee camps in Darfur in western Sudan for a month. He warned: “Just 50% of the requirements of the population will get to them in July. They have had very little food in the last six months at least. All their coping mechanisms are gone. They have very little ability to cope with any further insult.

    “If you want to create the environment for an epidemic they are all there and very well demonstrated—overcrowding, no water, no latrines. We are trying to create some sort of response in case there is an epidemic, but I think we will encounter a large number of people who will die.”

    An outbreak of shigellosis has been reported in the Abu Shoak camp and the World Health Organization has been notified of 1340 cases of bloody diarrhoea with 11 resulting deaths, in the Darfur region. “The aid effort is nowhere near enough,” said Dr Gillies.

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