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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Meet Mariam: a story of hope from West Darfur

Conflict in Darfur has been going on for 20 years. The resulting humanitarian crisis has killed more than 300,000 people and displaced over 2 million.

Ethnic tensions in Darfur are deeply rooted in competition over resources, land and power, and political, economic, and social marginalisation.

A surge in violence after 2020 resulted in the killing of civilians, loss of livelihoods and displacements, and has been seriously challenging access to essential services and protection for the most vulnerable.

In 2022, nearly 314,000 people were newly displaced due to conflict and violence in Sudan, including over 140,000 in the 5 Darfur states.

With EU humanitarian support, Save the Children provides medical and psychological support to children affected by the conflict. This is the story of Mariam, a young girl seriously injured during an attack on her village – and her road to recovery.

Finding shelter in a camp for displaced persons in Geneina, West Darfur, Mariam received medical aid for her injured leg. However, the little girl had also suffered deep psychological trauma due to the horrors she had witnessed and refused to speak.

EU humanitarian partner Save the Children provided medical care and psychological support to Mariam, and livelihood assistance to her mother.

Her psychologist is optimistic: “Mariam became a regular visitor [to the child-friendly space] and started responding to other people again. I was relieved. Still, she did not speak to strangers or start a conversation, but she seemed much better than before. I also regularly check on her and pass by the family’s house to see how she is doing.”

The project implemented by Save the Children supports 370,000 people, including over 190,000 children under 5, allowing improved access to basic health, nutrition, food security, child protection and disaster preparedness.

Mariam sitting with leg in dressing Mum and staff looking at X Ray V2
Mariam’s suffered serious leg injuries when shot by armed assailants during an attack on her village. She was carried by her mother to safety. The family, including Mariam’s 2 little brothers, fled to the forest trying to escape the attackers.
© Save the Children. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Mariam sitting with Save the Children staff and speaking
With EU humanitarian support, Save the Children provided medical and psychological care to the injured child. Save the Children has also established child-friendly spaces where traumatised children like Mariam can recuperate.
© Save the Children. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Mariam with walker and neighbour Alya
Mariam still needs a walker – but hopes that one day she will be able to walk normally again.
© Save the Children. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Mother Amira with Mariam
Mariam’s mother carried the injured child on her back as they fled their village. “I want my daughter to recover fully so that she can go to school like all the other children. I am willing to go wherever and do whatever is needed,” she says.
© Save the Children. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Story by Yolanda Valassopoulou, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Publication date: 02/03/2023