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As Sudan enters its 5th week of conflict, thousands cross into neighboring Chad

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

As Sudan enters its fifth week of conflict, there is no sign to an end to the violence. An agreement to open up a humanitarian corridor has not held, and the fighting has escalated. Thousands of people have crossed into neighboring Chad. NPR Africa correspondent Emmanuel Akinwotu sent us this postcard.

EMMANUEL AKINWOTU, BYLINE: I'm here in Farchana. That's a remote town near the border with Sudan. And I've been here with U.N. agencies and other aid groups who are rapidly trying to support the fast-growing numbers of refugees who've been crossing over the border into Chad. I've been traveling alongside NGOs and trucks of aid supplies, driving for hours through difficult remote routes to the border, escorted by Chadian soldiers.

EUJIN BYUN: My name is Eujin Byun. I'm a spokesperson for UNHCR, U.N. Refugee Agency. The water is so urgently needed, as well as the shelter. And everyone at the moment that - they are sheltering under tree just to avoid the sun and are hot. But you can imagine they just bring anything they can - the branch, and then just covering themselves with scarf.

AKINWOTU: Aid workers are rapidly trying to monitor and provide support at about 14 camps, which already existed, near the border with Sudan and new ones that are now forming.

BYUN: What worries UNHCR the most - that the raining season is coming. The raining season will cause more difficulty for humanitarian agency to bring aid.

AKINWOTU: About 60,000 Sudanese people have fled here to Chad in the last month. About half of that number have arrived in the last week alone. We heard of cases of children coming by themselves, even.

BYUN: This is, indeed, the children's crisis because you see thousand and thousand in children and also the thousand of thousand of orphan coming by themself. It's not their first time of displacement.

AKINWOTU: The speed of the refugees crossing this porous border tells you something about just how intense this conflict has been in Darfur. That's where they fled from, and that's the site of the devastating war 20 years ago, which has shaped that region up until now.

MARTÍNEZ: That was NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu reporting from Chad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Emmanuel Akinwotu
Emmanuel Akinwotu is an international correspondent for NPR. He joined NPR in 2022 from The Guardian, where he was West Africa correspondent.