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Diseases Main Cause of Darfur Deaths: Study
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Jan 22, 2010 - 8:12:28 AM & Newspapers


The new study says that nearly 80 percent of deaths in Darfur are caused by diseases, not violence

CAIRO — Nearly 80 percent of deaths in the conflict-ridden Sudanese region of Darfur are caused by diseases, not violence, two Belgian scientists can reveal.

"More than 80 percent of excess deaths were not a result of the violence," say Olivier Degomme and Debarati Guha-Sapir in a new study, to appear in the British Lancet medical magazine on Saturday, January 23.

The study notes a “protracted phase of increased disease-related deaths” after a peak of violence in early 2004.

"Although violence was the main cause of death during 2004, diseases have been the cause of most deaths since 2005, with displaced populations being the most susceptible,” the scientists write.

"But the main causes of mortality during the stabilization period were diseases such as diarrhea."

The scientists, from the Brussels-based Center for Research on the Epidemiology of disasters, note that diarrhea is caused by people living in conditions of unsanitary conditions with little or no healthcare infrastructure

Diarrhea kills some 1.5 million children each year around the world -- more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

The Darfur conflict broke out in 2003 when rebels took up arms against the Khartoum regime accusing it of discrimination.

The UN says that 300,000 have died as a result of war, disease and malnutrition.

The Sudanese government has put the number at nearly 10,000.

No independent field-research accounts are available to date.


The scientists note that the mortality rate among refugees is more higher than those who did not leave their homes.

"Overall, surveys of populations with large proportions of internally displaced people have higher mortality rates than do those consisting of only non-displaced individuals," Degomme and Guha-Sapir write.

This could suggest that "overcrowding and precarious situations in which the displaced people live increase the risk of death from communicable diseases."

The study cites higher morality rates when there were few numbers of aid workers in the troubled province.

The Belgian scientists warn that expulsion of aid workers could lead to a grave deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Darfur.

"Adequate humanitarian assistance to prevent and treat these potentially fatal diseases is essential," they write.

Khartoum on Thursday revoked the licenses of 26 relief groups in Darfur and warned 13 others conform to the country’s laws within a month or face a similar fate.

The government says the decision was taken as these groups “have not carried out any activities” and failed to renew their annual permits or submit required reports.

"The full effect of the expulsion of non-governmental organizations from Darfur is still not known, but the increased mortality rate during a period of reduced

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