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UN humanitarians will return to Khartoum ‘as quickly as possible’: UN aid coordinator

IOM teams are assessing the needs of Sudanese refugees on the Chad–Sudan border.
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IOM teams are assessing the needs of Sudanese refugees on the Chad–Sudan border.

UN humanitarians will return to Khartoum ‘as quickly as possible’: UN aid coordinator

Humanitarian Aid

The UN has been forced to essentially halt all aid operations across Sudan due to the continuing fighting between rival militaries, but humanitarians who have re-located to Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast are determined to return to Khartoum “as quickly as possible”, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator said on Thursday.

Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Abdou Dieng, speaking from Port Sudan, told reporters in the briefing room in New York that senior leadership would be returning to the Sudanese capital, as soon as the situation allows.

The needs are urgent, and widespread, he said, as the final few hours of a US-brokered 72-hour ceasefire neared, with fighting continuing. Hundreds have been killed, and thousands wounded as the rival militia of the country’s top two generals continue to battle each other in civilian areas.

Dire needs, before fighting erupted

Before the fighting began nearly two weeks ago, one in three Sudanese was already in need of aid, and it’s proving “extremely difficult” to properly assess the level of need today, Mr. Dieng said.

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The pre-conflict Humanitarian Response Plan called for $1.7 billion, of which only 15 per cent has been pledged, he said.

In reply to questions about an uptick in inter-communal violence in West Darfur and food shortages, he said the UN was extremely worried about food supplies, and the deteriorating situation across all of Darfur.

The UN and partners, are establishing a core team in Port Sudan itself, which will be responsible for overseeing humanitarian operations in the country, and negotiating humanitarian access with de facto authorities.

Emergency funding

The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, announced on Thursday the allocation of $3 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to urgently respond to the arrival of Sudanese refugees and others in Chad. 

In Khartoum, meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that more than 60 per cent of health facilities are closed and only 16 per cent are operating as normal.

Briefing reporters in New York, UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, said that according to UN partners who remain in the capital, the treatment of nearly 50,000 acutely malnourished children has been disrupted. 

Mr. Haq said that shortages of food, water, medicines and food continue, especially in the capital and surrounding areas, where the military stand-off has been most intense, “while access to communications and electricity is limited in many parts of the country.”

Needs grow at Chad-Sudan border

As many as 20,000 people – among them Chadians, Sudanese, and foreign nationals – fleeing the violence in Sudan, have arrived so far in neighbouring Chad, said the UN migration agency, IOM, earlier on Thursday.

The vast border between the two countries extends for 1,400 kilometres.

“The majority of those arriving are in dire need of basic humanitarian aid, namely food, water and adequate shelter,” said Anne Kathrin Schaefer, IOM Chief of Mission in Chad.

“While registration is ongoing by humanitarian actors including IOM, we believe a considerable number of those arriving are Chadians as well as nationals from other countries, who lived in Sudan and will require immediate assistance to return to their communities of origin and reunite with their families,” she adds.

IOM teams have been deployed in Eastern Chad at the border with Sudan and are working around the clock in support of the national and humanitarian efforts to respond to the arrivals.