STORY: War and Hunger in Sudan OCHA - WHO - UNICEF
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 25 AUGUST 2023, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
War and hunger could destroy Sudan, warns UN
War and hunger are fueling a "humanitarian emergency of epic proportions” that could destroy Sudan, UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths warned on Friday. In a statement, Mr. Griffiths, who heads the UN's humanitarian affairs coordination office (OCHA), called it a “viral conflict” that “threatens to consume the entire country”.
The intense fighting that has ravaged the capital Khartoum and Darfur since mid-April has spread to Kordofan, OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke told reporters in Geneva.
Mr. Laerke warned that food stocks have been fully depleted in south Kordofan’s capital, Kadugli, while in West Kordofan’s capital, El Fula, humanitarian offices have been ransacked and supplies looted. He also quoted Mr. Griffiths as being
“extremely worried” about the safety of civilians in Al Jazira State, which is “the breadbasket of Sudan”.
Mr. Laerke pointed out that there could be a “lost generation” of children due to the war, which has left hundreds of thousands severely malnourished and at imminent risk of death if left untreated and forced millions to have “their education replaced by the devastating traumas of war”.
The UN Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) warned that two million children have been displaced by the war in Sudan. Also speaking in Geneva, spokesperson James Elder painted a grim picture of the coming rainy season, where lack of access to clean water risks “becoming a death sentence” for children. “We're going to keep seeing spikes in child deaths that are all utterly avoidable,” he added.
According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), with the coming rainy season, there was also an increased risk of outbreaks of water-borne and vector-borne diseases. WHO spokesperson Tarik Jašarević told journalists that there were "reports of dengue, measles, acute watery diarrhoea, but also of severe acute malnutrition”.
According to the WHO spokesperson, there have already been 2,199 suspected measles cases with 30 deaths and 300 cases of acute watery diarrhoea with seven deaths. Mr. Jašarević pointed out that “reporting is not easy, so all these are just underestimates”. In a statement, WHO said that over 300 cases of malaria had also been reported and
that a “staggering” 67 per cent (60 out of 89) of all main hospitals in areas affected by the fighting were out of service as of 31 May.
The UN health agency pointed out that the 29 hospitals operating fully or partially were at risk of closure due to a shortage of medical staff, supplies and water. Widespread blackouts in certain areas have resulted in a lack of electricity, placing patients and perishable medical supplies at high risk. Critical services, including maternal and child health care, management of severe acute malnutrition and treatment of patients with non-communicable diseases, have been discontinued in many areas, WHO said.
According to UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths, a protracted conflict in Sudan could tip the entire region into a “humanitarian catastrophe.” OCHA's Mr. Laerke pointed out that more than 3.6 million people have been internally displaced, while nearly one million have fled across Sudan's borders. He also highlighted that those fighting were not adhering “in any shape or form” to international humanitarian law and that the conflict was not getting the international attention that it deserved.
The UN's humanitarian appeal for Sudan remained only 26 per cent funded, which, according to the OCHA spokesperson, was "completely unacceptable”. He quoted Mr. Griffiths' call to all those fighting in this conflict to "put the people of Sudan above the pursuit of power or resources".
“We have a crisis here that has blown up in Sudan, which for those of us who have followed Sudan for many, many years, was at a promising point in the history. And it has just skydived into this catastrophe,” Mr. Laerke said.