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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2010 Nov-Dec;25(6):496-502.

Changes in mortality rates and humanitarian conditions in Darfur, Sudan 2003-2007.

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  • 1Clinical International Nursing, School of Nursing, Columbia University, New York City, NY 10032, USA.


The Darfur region of Sudan has been an intense focus of humanitarian concern since rebellions began there early in 2003. In 2004, the US Secretary of State declared that conflict in Darfur represented genocide. Since 2003, many sample surveys and various mortality estimates for Darfur have been made. Nonetheless, confusion and controversy surrounding mortality levels and trends have continued. For this project, results were reviewed from the highest quality field surveys on mortality in Darfur conducted between 2003 and 2008. Trend analysis demonstrated a dramatic decline in mortality over time in Darfur. By 2005, mortality levels had fallen below emergency levels and have continued to decline. Deaths directly due violence have declined as a proportion of all of the deaths in Darfur. Declining mortality in Darfur was not associated with other proximate improvements in well-being, such as improved nutrition. Without large-scale, humanitarian intervention, continuing high rates of mortality due to violence likely would have occurred. If mortality had continued at the high rate documented in 2004, by January 2009, there would have been 330,000 additional deaths. With the humanitarian assistance provided through the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, these people are alive today. A focus on excess deaths among noncombatants may draw attention away from other needs, such as establishing better security, improving service delivery to the displaced, and advocating for internally displaced persons to be reached today and to re-establish their lives and livelihoods tomorrow.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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