PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE
2 May 2023
Conflict in Sudan
Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), said that the UN and partners were doing their best to reboot the humanitarian response in the country.
Jens Laerke, for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), stated that, as of this morning, the USD 1.7 billion Humanitarian Response Plan for Sudan for 2023 was only 14 percent funded. OCHA was calling on all donors to support the humanitarian organizations without delay so that the much-needed assistance could be provided shortly. Partners on the ground, where the situation allowed, continued to operate, informed Mr. Laerke. UN Relief Chief Martin Griffiths was in the region and had held a series of meetings in Nairobi, including with the President of Kenya and the Foreign Minister of Canada. He had called on the parties to the conflict to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, allow safe passage for civilians fleeing areas of hostilities, respect humanitarian workers and assets, facilitate relief operations, and respect medical personnel, transport, and facilities.
Olga Sarrado, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said that over 100,000 refugees were estimated among those who had now left Sudan to neighbouring countries, including Sudanese refugees, South Sudanese returning home prematurely, and others who were themselves refugees in Sudan.
Alongside governments and partners, UNHCR had determined an initial planning figure of more than 800,000 refugees and returnees that might flee Sudan to neighbouring countries. The figures were projections used for financial and operational planning. Of the total, around 600,000 would be Sudanese refugees, as well as refugees hosted by Sudan. In addition, more than 200,000 South Sudanese and other refugees hosted by Sudan might return home prematurely.
Ms. Sarrado said that the most significant cross-border movements so far had been Sudanese refugees arriving in Chad and Egypt, and South Sudanese returning to South Sudan. Most new arrivals in Chad and South Sudan were women and children. While UNHCR had large operations in many neighbouring countries, the previous week they had deployed additional emergency teams and activated our global supply chain, including orders for some 70,000 core relief items from our global stockpiles for Chad and South Sudan.
UNHCR statement is available here.
Paul Dillon, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that there were some 334,000 internally displaced persons because of fighting, according to the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix. The number of the displaced over the past two weeks exceeded all conflict-related displacements recorded in Sudan in 2022. Most areas remained inaccessible to humanitarian agencies, but the IOM was able to conduct remote interviews through its network. About 72 percent of all new internal displacements were reported in the Darfur alone, informed Mr. Dillon. In addition to new data on internal displacements, the matrix was collecting data at border crossings. Fleeing to safety was complicated by a number of factors, including safety and the lack of fuel. In Ethiopia, where hundreds of refugees were arriving daily, there was a lack of WASH services, said Mr. Dillon. IOM was appealing to donors to come forward and support IOM’s response in all border areas, including Ethiopia and Chad.
Replying to numerous questions from the media, Ms. Sarrado said that the majority of the those fleeing the country were women and children, but there were also older people, including men. It was very difficult to predict how the displacement situation would grow, which primarily depend on how the conflict itself would evolve. She said that an estimated 24,469 South Sudanese refugees who had been in Sudan would have returned to their country by now; in addition, 2,806 Sudanese nationals had also fled to South Sudan.
Mr. Laerke said that the looting of warehouses in Sudan was an enormous problem, but some stocks were still there. Wherever the security situation allowed, and supplies were available, they would be distributed without delay. Guns needed to fall silent for two reasons: for civilians to be protected, and for humanitarian organizations to safely get to people in need. That was the primary rationale of the UN Relief Chief’s dispatchment to the region.
Tarik Jašarević, for the World Health organization (WHO), said that six containers for treating of injuries and severe acute malnutrition were being offloaded in Port Sudan. Another 13 metric tons of supplies would be flown in from the WHO logistics hub in Dubai as soon as that became possible. There was a need to treat traumas and wounds, but the lack of clean water was also an issue. The 28 April figures from the Ministry of Health showed that there were 528 deaths and over 4,400 injuries. WHO was continuing to help Sudanese medical workers in Khartoum and elsewhere, who were the real heroes on the ground. Mr. Jašarević stressed that the biggest health risk to Sudanese people was the lack of access to health services. Finally, he said that the WHO had conducted a risk assessment on the seized National Public Health Laboratory in Khartoum, a risk which was estimated as “moderate”.
Mr. Dillon explained that there was no one set template for the displacement within the country. People were fleeing from Darfur in all directions, for example. In response to the rapidly emerging needs in neighboring countries’ border areas, the IOM had provided some emergency relief to those who had arrived to Chad. However, the funds were finite, and more help was needed. IOM was particularly focused on the internally displaced people within Sudan. Up to 1,000 people were arriving to Ethiopian border regions every day, he said, stretching the capacities of the receiving country. Active fighting in multiple locations around the country forced many people to remain barricaded in their homes, he said.
New survey results show health systems starting to recover from pandemic
Dr. Rudi Eggers, Director of Integrated Health Services at the World Health Organization (WHO), said that, after three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems in countries had started showing the first major signs of health system recovery, according to the WHO interim report on the “Fourth round of the global pulse survey on continuity of essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic: November 2022–January 2023”. By early 2023, countries had reported experiencing reduced disruptions in the delivery of routine health services but highlighted the need to invest in recovery and stronger resilience for the future.
Persisting disruptions were due to both demand- and supply-side factors, including low levels of health care-seeking in communities as well as limited availability of health workers and other health-care resources such as open clinics or available stocks of medicines and products. Most countries reported at least one bottleneck to scaling up access to essential COVID-19 tools, with health workforce issues and lack of funding representing the most common barriers.
Dr. Eggers explained that another important step towards system recovery and transition was that most countries had made progress in integrating COVID-19 services into routine health service delivery. Most countries had also started to apply what they had learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic, including through the institutionalization of a number of innovative service disruption mitigation strategies into routine health service delivery. Countries expressed need for WHO support to address remaining challenges in the COVID-19 context and beyond, most frequently related to health workforce strengthening, building the monitoring capacities of health services, designing primary health care-oriented models of care, governance, policy and planning and financial planning and funding.
Full report is available here.
Responding to questions, Mr. Eggers said that the fact that people were once again able to access health services would surely save lives. Almost all countries in the world had experienced disruptions in their national health services, but those with weaker systems had suffered more, and were now recovering more slowly. He also explained that some regions of the world were more responsive to the survey than others.
Responding to a question, Tarik Jašarević, for the World Health organization (WHO), said that the COVID-19 IHR Emergency Committee would meet on 4 May, but it was not known yet when the outcome would be available.
Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), reminded that the Secretary-General was in Doha, Qatar, hosting a meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan to reach points of commonality on key issues, such as human rights, in particular women’s and girls’ rights, inclusive governance, countering terrorism and drug trafficking. He would speak from Doha in the early afternoon today.
From Doha, the Secretary-General would fly to Nairobi, where he would chair the Chief Executives Board of the UN system. He would also meet with the Kenyan authorities and the United Nations staff.
Catherine Huissoud, for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), informed that UNCTAD would host the third UN Trade Forum on 8-9 May, which would focus on trade policies that could help countries and mainly developing countries grow their economies while tackling pressing global challenges and accelerating progress towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Ms. Huissoud also said that UNCTAD would present its Trade and Environment Review 2023 which highlighted the vast opportunities oceans held for developing countries to recover from the current crises and build more innovative and resilient economies. UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan would travel to Moscow shortly, said Ms. Huissoud in a response to a question.
Clare Nullis, for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), informed that on 3 May at 10 am, WMO would hold a press conference to provide an update on El Niño. Speaker would be Dr. Wilfran Moufouma Okia, Head of the WMO Regional Climate Prediction Services Division. A press release, under embargo, would be sent out shortly.
Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), informed that the Committee Against Torture was examining report of Kazakhstan today.
The Universal Periodic Review today was analysing the report of Romania.
Ms. Vellucci also said that the World Press Freedom Day would be on 3 May. The Secretary-General, in his message, in which he said: “Stop the threats and attacks. Stop detaining and imprisoning journalists for doing their jobs. Stop the lies and disinformation. Stop targeting truth and truth-tellers.” UNESCO would organize a number of events on this occasion; more information was available here.