STORY: Sudan Update – UNHCR-UNICEF-WHO
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
RELEASE DATE: 5 May 2023
UNHCR calls to states to keep borders open to Sudanese, suspend negative asylum decisions; concerns over rising numbers of children killed
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Friday urged States to keep borders open to people fleeing ongoing hostilities in Sudan and to suspend "negative asylum decisions" for Sudanese nationals outside the country who cannot return because of the conflict.
“Our first request in that advisory is that all countries allow civilians fleeing Sudan on a nondiscriminatory manner to access their territory”, said Elizabeth Tan, Director of International Protection of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), speaking to media at the United Nations in Geneva. “So, this applies to Sudanese nationals, to foreign nationals, including refugees who are being hosted in Sudan, stateless persons, as well as those who do not have a passport or any other form of identification.”
In past three weeks since the beginning of the hostilities, UNHCR and humanitarian partners have been reporting a shocking array of human rights violation, including indiscriminate attacks against civilians and sexual violence. Widespread criminality and looting of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and humanitarian premises, have forced many Sudanese to flee and seek safety outside Sudan.
“There are Sudanese who are outside of Sudan and who now require protection,” said UNHCR’s Ms. Tan. “They should not be sent back to Sudan if they have ongoing asylum claims. We are requesting that negative decisions be put on hold. And those who have received a negative asylum result that they not be forcibly returned to Sudan for the time being, given the situation there.”
Large numbers of civilians have been forced to flee the fighting, including people who were already internally displace because of previous conflict in Sudan, and refugees from other countries who had sought safety in Sudan.
“There were 1.1 million refugees hosted in Sudan, and those individuals require protection in Sudan,” stressed UNHCR’s director of protection. “So, some of them, as I've mentioned, have fled, but some of them are also moving to other countries. And we're requesting that governments support them and enter them into the asylum systems in neighboring countries in order to ensure their safety.”
UNHCR remains particularly concerned about the situation of the newly displaced in Darfur.
“We have heard reports about IDP (internally displaced people) camps being burned to the ground, so we know that people are being displaced. The IDPs in Darfur are being displaced again,” said Ms. Tan. “Our ability to provide assistance in Darfur is severely constrained. I mentioned that in the east of the country and in the Sudanese refugee camps, we're able to provide some assistance because that part of the country is still relatively stable- In Darfur it's a different situation and so the humanitarian situation is likely to deteriorate.”
The UN Child’s Agency (UNICEF) also released disturbing numbers of children killed and injured in Sudan. The data reports from the conflict hotspots of Khartoum and the Darfurs.
“From the start of fighting 15 April until 21 of April, let's call that 11 days, including those two days, the reports we have received are 190 children killed and 1,700 injured," said UNICEF spokesperson James Elder. “Now, when you break that down over those 11 days, that means that every single hour you have seven boys or girls have been killed or injured.”
Mr. Elder added that “these are only children getting to health facilities. I think this is underlining the enormity of how violent this is and how much it's impacting children. This is before we look at the eight million plus who needed humanitarian assistance and now have great, great destruction on their health systems and on their water systems.”
UNICEF stressed that particularly places where children must be safe such as homes, schools and hospitals have consistently come under attack.
While condemning the attacks on humanitarian workers and humanitarian facilities as well as the looting of vehicles and supplies, UNICEF stressed that such attacks undermine the capacity to reach children across the country with lifesaving health, nutrition, water and sanitation services.
Quoting the Sudanese Ministry of Health, Dr Margaret Harris, Spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that “4,926 people were wounded and 551 people have been killed” but that real numbers of casualties are most likely numbers much higher.
According to WHO’s Dr Harris, 25 per cent of people die because they didn’t get help for their bleeding injuries.
In the third week of brutal fighting in Sudan, health care services are rapidly falling apart in the nation’s capital, Khartoum. Very few hospitals are fully operating and the biggest majority, over 60 %, are not anymore functioning properly.
“In attacks on health care, 28 attacks leading to eight deaths and 18 injuries. The kinds of attacks include looting, obstruction of access to health care, violent attacks using weapons and forced occupation of facilities,” reported Dr Harris.
Yesterday, UNCHR and 134 partners announced funding requirements of $445 million for the regional interagency refugee’s response plan in five countries to assist an estimated 860,000 Sudanese, refugees of other nationalists and refugees’ returnees leaving the country.