Week’s Summary: Interview with Contacts in Kauda 1/28/12

I’d like to thank everyone following these reports. We welcome comments and feedback, and if you work with a diplomatic organization, advocacy group, aid organization, or other group involved in finding practical solutions to restarting a peace process or bringing aid to civilians in South Kordofan–please let us know how these reports can better serve you (in both content and methodology). I’m also working on a post about our methodology and goals, so look for this in the coming week.  I hope it’ll help you, the reader, understand better what these reports are good for and not so good for. Finally, please know that all these posts (and everything on the website) are copy write protected–please cite the Nuba Peace Coalition if you use this information.

Bombing Report– For better or worse we have no first hand accounts of bombings this week.  Our contacts in the Kauda region tell us that for the second week there have been no bombings in the area–with second-hand reports of bombings further south around Buram. Antonov planes continue to fly overhead in Kauda two or three times per day, though, to the distress of our sources.  They report that the planes fly generally south at 6:00am and 10:00am and that they return heading generally north at 8:00pm. Our sources could not speculate on the purpose of the flights.

Mines and Forced Migration - Our sources report five civilian men were taken to the local hospital with injuries from mined roads last Saturday, January 21st. It’s unclear if these were separate incidents or a single incident.  Two men lost one leg, the other three lost both legs (our sources have not seen them since last weekend, so we do not know their current status.)  Reportedly the five families were attempting to travel south to the Yida refugee camp where they encountered mines. Their wives traveled subsequently with their husbands to the hospital (and it is again unclear where their children are). It seems they had been warned of either mines or potential conflict with militas because the men were traveling some distance ahead of their families to keep their families safe.

We asked our sources if they could be more clear about where the mines were being laid. They had no first hand knowledge, but have heard that the road between Yida and Kauda has mines, particularly around Toroge, south of Buram. (Here’s a pretty good map to help visualize). This needs to be confirmed by other sources.  They speculate that the government forces laid these mines to disrupt not only rebel supply lines, but the few aid shipments getting in (medical supplies, blankets) sent by _____.

Finally, civilians in Kauda still report access to the refugee camps in the south (even if the routes have an increased risk). We will not publish further detail on the internet.

Food Security - In response to a conversation with HHI and the Sentinel Project we inquired this week about current cultivation efforts in the region–with the intention of gaining better intelligence about food security.  Here’s our initial answer: 1) human migration within the region means that a significant number of people in towns and villages are displaced–they consequently do not have land to farm. Our sources told us that an individual or group of individuals could try to petition whatever locals are left for land to cultivate, but our sources suggest that this would be unlikely because 2) there were not many seeds saved for cultivation after the last harvest (which was poor) and the seeds that were saved either have already been eaten or will probably be eaten by planting time. 3) Also, there are still risks to cultivation–as our regular readers will know–a significant proportion of deaths and injuries from bombs and militias occur when people are out in their fields cultivating. 4) There are currently no planted fields because it is the dry season, and this would be the case even in good, peaceful times.  Planting begins (or would begin in) May after the first month of rain in April.  If you are an aid organization–distributing seed before the rainy season begins in April could go far in staving off further malnutrition and starvation.

Malnutrition- Again in response to HHI and the Sentinel Project we’re commenting in further detail about malnutrition in the region.  The question: what evidence is there of human wasting? Change in hair pigmentation? Swelling under the skin? Swollen bellies? Answer: Yes, to everything, but only for two groups, children between the ages of 3 to 5 and the immobile elderly.  And for those two groups our sources roughly estimate about 6 or 7 out of 10 are showing signs of severe malnutrition. Why these groups?

Children are breast-fed until about 3 years old, which prevents severe malnutrition. And children at about 5 years and older are mature enough to form groups to go out and forage in the bush.  So, the two groups currently showing signs of severe malnutrition are the two groups not able to forage and find their own food.

What are people eating? Our source described regularly eating a handful of boiled sourgum mixed with foraged leaves from the bush.

Prevalence of Disease (Morbidity) - We are working on putting together a survey that will give us fairly reliable morbidity statistics. If you have expertise in conducting such surveys please contact us–we’d like to consult you about how we’ve designed the study.

Malaria- Our sources report that this is the most common.  And indeed we’ve seen this in how frequently our sources have contracted malaria. We wish we could report at this time on the level of malaria medication in the hospitals (and the likelihood that people are making it to a hospital or clinic), but do not have access to this information right now. It seems from anecdotal evidence that there’s enough anti-malaria medication at the moment.  As we reported last week hospitals are keeping malaria patients in the wards to make sure they are eating.

We’ve also heard first hand that the wards are overfull, and that the hospitals are setting up makeshift wards (we think in tents) to accomodate the high number of sick. We have some more specific information on this, but will not publish it on the internet.

Diarrhea – As we’ve reported previously diarrhea is estimated to be the second-most common problem. We still have no information about what is causing diarrhea. It occurs mainly in people living in mountain caves and drinking from mountain streams.  We regret that we do not have more specific information at this time–so, please cross check this with your own sources.

Malnutrition – As we noted above, it’s currently a problem for a small and particularly venerable portion of the population.  We expect to see the demographic affected by severe malnutrition to expand over the coming months, and will be inquiring about this in the weeks to come.  Our sources report, as would be expected, that death from malaria and diarrhea are the most common when combined with malnutrition. This information needs to be confirmed and we would like to report more accurate numbers on it in the future–also, the two groups that are most affected by malnutrition would have the weakest immune systems from the start. Further, there’s some question about the prevalence of parasites–we have absolutely no information about whether parasites are contributing to malnutrition.  This is an area for further investigation. If you are reading this and have information about the current prevalence of parasites, please contact us.

Militias- Our sources do not report any first or second-hand reports about new militia attacks this week.  There are no militias currently in Kauda–says our source this week. Other sources have reported nomadic militias–or just nomadic groups looking for food–(we’re not sure if this is a meaningful distinction to make) in the Kauda region and occasional conflict with civilians.

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