Sudan: a mother and her newborn reunited after escaping conflict

Published: 9 August 2013 11:27 CET

By Susan Onyango, IFRC

Vulnerable 19-year-old Amira Mohammed Hussein was in the throes of labour when inter-ethnic violence broke out in her home village of Abou Khorrshola, South Kordofan, Sudan.

After the baby was born, Amira and her family wanted to join their neighbours and run for safety, but the new mother was in too much pain and could not walk. Her family hid her in a trench, while her sister quietly left the house carrying Amira’s newborn baby boy to safety.

When some calm returned, Amira, her siblings and parents embarked on the journey to Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. It would take days, but there, at least, they were assured of safety. Amira rode on a donkey cart while everyone else walked.

“The ride was uncomfortable. I was in great pain and my body ached, but I had to do it. All I wanted was to see my baby,” says Amira.

Twelve hours after delivering her baby, Amira was reunited with her newborn, but their journey wasn’t finished. They still had another 400 kilometres to go, relying on well-wishers to provide them food and accommodation, and a trucker to drive them.

When they reached their destination, Amira tried to find room at the camp for internally displaced people in Mayo in South Khartoum, but it was already full with people like her from South Kordofan and returnees from South Sudan. Amira ended up finding a place to sleep with a relative nearby.

“We were immediately called in to administer first aid to the group of weary travellers. Amira and her baby were dehydrated and weak. We transferred them to the local hospital and that is where they stayed for seven days,” says Rehab Suliman from the Sudanese Red Crescent’s branch in Khartoum.

Staff and volunteers at the Sudanese Red Crescent work in the camp and surrounding area. They assess the immediate needs of those who have fled violence in other parts of the country. Families arrive with very little, requiring everything from food to kitchen sets, from bedding to health care.

Weeks later, Amira’s mother and husband returned to South Kodorfan to find their homes  destroyed. Insecurity prevails. They have asked Amira and the others to stay in Khartoum until it is safe to return.

“I only want peace to return so that we can go home and rebuild our lives,” says Amira. Amira and her family are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people are on the move in Sudan, searching for a safe place to stay until peace is restored.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is supporting the Sudanese Red Crescent in its response by launching an appeal for 3,711,427 Swiss francs.

The appeal will provide assistance to 150,000 displaced people across 11 disaster-prone states. The humanitarian operation will focus on providing relief items and basic first-aid services, as well as work to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases, which pose a serious threat to health.