STORY: Sudan Update: UNHCR - WFP - OHCHR
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
RELEASE DATE: 28 April 2023
Two weeks since fighting erupted between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), United Nation humanitarian aid agencies warned on Friday that the ongoing conflict is having a devastating impact on the civilian population, including refugees and internally displaced people across the country. Heavy fighting and insecurity have driven tens of thousands to flee in search of safety.
“The biggest challenge we will have is Darfur,” said Axel Bisschop, UNHCR Representative in Sudan. “Darfur has already faced the wrath of intercommunal conflict and displacement. Now with this added on crisis, the humanitarian situation will be very, very difficult.” Mr Bisschop added that “we also are concerned that the impact of communal violence is going to increase and that we might have some situations which will repeat in relation to what we had a couple of years ago”.
The UN refugee agency said that is extremely disturbing that desperately needed assistance - especially for newly displaced and vulnerable people like women and children - cannot be provided and that innocent civilians will continue to suffer.
“We are also very, very worried about the continued movement both internal displacement but also of refugees that now leave places like Khartoum but also Darfur to seek safety in other areas, and we have already seen that some of the camps especially in the White Nile have received new refugees,” said the UNHCR’s Sudan Representative.
UN agencies are temporarily relocating their staff to safer regions inside and outside Sudan. A leadership team has set up a hub in Port Sudan where staff will continue to monitor the situation while preparing to resume the humanitarian operations, when possible.
“We have all been forced to pause some of the programmes especially in Darfur, in Khartoum and also in the Kordofans, but we are still operating in the White Nile, Blue Nile, East Sudan, Gedaref and Kassala,” said Mr Bisschop. “This is where the main majority of the population of UNHCR’s concern is for the refugees.”
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and other humanitarian actors have called on all parties to the conflict to take immediate steps to stop the fighting, restore calm and enable humanitarians to safety carry out their mandate.
“As the fighting rages on in parts of Sudan, our humanitarian operations in the country are actually impossible at a time when a third of the country is in desperate need of assistance,” said Brenda Kariuki, WFP’s Regional Communications Officer for East Africa. “We are hearing of acute shortages of food, water, fuel, medicines and access to healthcare.”
Because of the current crisis, millions more will need humanitarian assistance, WFP has warned. While a ceasefire meant a relative reprieve in the fighting, clashes continue to be reported in densely populated areas of Khartoum, Bahri, Omdurman and towns in Darfur and North Kordofan.
“WFP staff offices and vehicles and equipment and food stocks have come in the direct line of fire, and looting of our warehouses continues,” said Ms. Kariuki. “To date, we know up to 4,000 metric tonnes of food meant for vulnerable people has been looted from our warehouses, and at least ten vehicles and six trucks which transport food have been stolen”. She added that “this is unacceptable, and it is takes away much needed humanitarian aid meant for the most vulnerable Sudanese and refugees who desperately need this lifesaving assistance.”
With WFP’s air operations grounded, the entire humanitarian community’s movement is severely disrupted.
The UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Friday that it is deeply alarming that inmates in Sudan have been released from, or escaped from, a number of prisons.
OHCHR’s spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said that “when you see continued impunity for serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, it emboldens the perpetrators, and we are very concerned that prison releases or escapes have also led to potential war criminals having been released. This is of deep concern.”
According to OHCHR, the hostilities between the RSF and SAF have triggered intercommunal violence.
“This goes back also to perceived and real ethnic affiliations of the RSF and the SAF, the Sudanese Armed Forces,” Ms. Shamdasani said. “There have been sporadic clashes between Arab and Masalit communities. What we have seen since 24 April is that clashes between the communities are continuing, and we have estimates that some 96 people have already been killed.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also reported about 25 verified attacks on health facilities. Since 15 April, eight health care workers have been killed and 18 others injured following these attacks.