A child dies every two hours in the Zamzam refugee camp in Darfur, in the western part of the war-torn Sudan, the non-governmental organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced on Monday, warning that there is a “catastrophic situation” there.

“We estimate that at least one child dies every two hours in the camp, or about 13 children every day,” Claire Nicolet, the NGO’s Sudan crisis response officer, said in a press release released yesterday.

“Children who are acutely malnourished and have not yet died are at risk of dying in three to six weeks” if they don’t get help, he added.

Almost a quarter of children examined by MSF are acutely malnourished and nearly 40% of children six months to two years old are malnourished, which exceeds “all thresholds” for declaring a state of emergency, the NGO added.

The death toll in the camp, one of the largest and oldest in the country, which houses an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 internally displaced people today, is “extremely alarming”: the gross death rate is estimated to be as high as 2.5 deaths per 10,000 people on day — a level twice the threshold for declaring a state of emergency, MSF also noted.

“Before the start of the conflict (…) IDPs in the camp were largely dependent on international aid in terms of food, health care, drinking water,” noted Mrs. Nicolet. “Today, they are almost completely abandoned,” he added.

“The World Food Program (WFP) has been delivering food (there) since May,” and families are forced to drink “water from swamps or rivers,” he explained.

At the same time, in a joint statement received by AFP yesterday, UN experts warned that approximately “25 million people, including 14 million children, are in desperate need of humanitarian aid in Sudan”.

The humanitarian crisis has caused “unprecedented mass displacement”: 9 million people have been displaced, mostly internally; they are housed in various communities, makeshift camps or temporary accommodation (schools, abandoned buildings…), living in “disastrous conditions, with limited support from international humanitarian organizations,” the experts pointed out.

Since April 15, the war between the armed forces under General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitaries under General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo has claimed the lives of thousands of people, including 10,000 to 15,000 in just one city ​​of Darfur, according to a recent report by independent UN experts.