MSF medical team hopes to return soon Following heavy fighting in Muhajariya, South Darfur, Sudan, on Jan. 15, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been forced to temporarily relocate most of its medical team to Nyala, the regional capital, an estimated 80 kilometres away. The team has since learnt that the MSF base in Muhajariya was completely destroyed by fire, though the MSF clinic remains functional. Because of the evacuation of MSF, more than 35,000 people living in Muhajariya and its immediate surroundings who are directly affected by the violence are now without sufficient and urgently needed medical assistance. MSF hopes to be able to return with a full team in the area as soon possible. MSF asks all parties to the conflict to respect humanitarian actors providing essential medical aid to the civilians.  “It is frustrating to be out of Muhajariya at a time where we can support the population, but we are trying to return and continue our medical care as before, as soon as the circumstances allow,” explains Jose Hulsenbek, MSF’s coordinator for operations in Darfur. Prior to the team’s departure staff were busy treating wounded. Twenty five patients were given urgent care, 18 of whom were treated for gunshot wounds. The African Union-United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) assisted with the transportation of six of the wounded to Nyala Hospital for further care, upon the departure of MSF. “When we had to evacuate, it was not clear, what would happen to the patients. In the end, for some of the injured a helicopter evacuation to Nyala was arranged and it was a relief for me, that they would get necessary treatment,” says Henrike Meyer, an MSF doctor who was forced to leave Muhajariya. “If I had the choice, to stay or to go, I guess, I would prefer to stay with the patients.” A small team of Sudanese MSF staff remaining in Muhajariya continue to provide basic life-saving services. However, without surgical services, this is far from meeting the needs of the population. The security situation remains unclear. It is reported that most women and children have fled the town. Since July 2004, MSF has provided medical humanitarian assistance to both the resident population and displaced people in Muhajariya. MSF provides medical care to about 70,000 people living in and around Muhajariya, offering surgical care, inpatient and outpatient services, a laboratory and nutrition, as well as mobile clinic support to the nearby areas of Labado and Um Shegeira.

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