Sudan: ‘We cannot work under the barrel of a gun,’ UN relief chief says
Warring factions in Sudan must respect international law, protect civilians, and stop targeting relief and aid workers, the United Nations top humanitarian official urged on Saturday, as the conflict reached its three-month mark.
“For three months now, the people of Sudan have endured unspeakable suffering amid violence that is tearing their country apart,” Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said in a statement.
“As the conflict enters its fourth month, the battle lines are hardening, making it ever more difficult to reach the millions of people who need urgent humanitarian assistance,” he added.
More than 3 million people have been displaced due to the conflict both within Sudan and across its borders; the fighting, which broke out in mid-April has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people and injured over 12,000, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Health workers and facilities have also been attacked, severely limiting access for those in need, and with the onset of the rainy season, there is an increased risk of outbreaks of water- and vector-borne diseases, compounded by challenges in waste management and shortages of supplies.
Children are among the worst affected, with an estimated 13.6 million – roughly half the number remaining in Sudan – in urgent need of assistance.
‘World’s most difficult place’
Describing Sudan as “one of the world's most difficult places for humanitarian workers to operate,” Mr. Griffiths emphasized the collaborative efforts of local organizations and international aid groups in delivering life-saving supplies.
However, that work cannot be carried out when relief workers themselves, are at risk.
“But we cannot work under the barrel of a gun. We cannot replenish stores of food, water and medicine if brazen looting of these stocks continues. We cannot deliver if our staff are prevented from reaching people in need.”
He underlined that ultimately, the suffering of Sudanese people will end only when the fighting stops, and called on the parties to the conflict to abide by the Declaration of Commitments they signed in Jeddah to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law.
Each day ‘the misery deepens’
Each day the fighting continues, the misery deepens for Sudanese civilians
“Each day the fighting continues, the misery deepens for Sudanese civilians […] We must all redouble our efforts to ensure that the conflict in Sudan does not spiral into a brutal and interminable civil war with grave consequences for the region,” the UN official stressed.
“The people of Sudan cannot afford to wait,” he concluded.