Although the international community currently is focused on Darfur, it is important that the status of other conflict-affected populations throughout Sudan are not overlooked. For the past decade, the Beja population, located along the Sudan-Eritrea border, has been affected by a conflict that has drawn little attention from the international community.
This study assessed crude mortality rates and other demographic characteristics using a mortality study nested within a nutrition assessment using cluster sampling methods.
The crude mortality rate among the Beja population in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-controlled territories between October 2003 and October 2004 was estimated at 1.4/10,000/day (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.2–1.6); the under five years of age mortality rate was estimated at 2.7/10,000/day (95% CI: 2.2–3.3). Both of these are elevated rates that exceed the accepted threshold to declare a humanitarian emergency.
When considered with recent reports of elevated malnutrition rates, the status of Beja is critical by international standards. Study findings suggest that: (1) nesting demographic objectives into other planned assessments (such as nutrition) are a feasible and cost-effective means for non-governmental organizations to characterize beneficiary populations; and (2) the Beja residing in the NDA-controlled territories are facing elevated mortality and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.