UN agencies voices ‘desperate’ situation for civilians IN Sudan crisis


Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau

UNITED NATIONS, 3rd June. UN agencies and partners on Friday warned that the conflict between rival military groups in Sudan is fuelling an increasingly “desperate” situation for civilians in Khartoum.

Over 1.2 million people have been displaced and thousands have fled across neighboring borders, the agencies reported

The agencies warned a rising death toll, rampant looting of humanitarian aid, and rising needs for assistance are growing concerns.

Patrick Elliott, head of operations for Sudan for the International Federation of the Red Cross told reporters in Geneva that the situation was “particularly desperate” in Khartoum, where people were fleeing the violence or were unable to leave.

Tarik Jašarević of WHO said the numbers being provided from the Ministry of Health were an underestimate of the overall death toll.

Mr. Jašarević said many health facilities are unable to function raising concerns for 20,000 pregnant women who are unable to receive pre-natal care.

According to the UN Population Fund some 11 million people are in urgent need of health assistance in Sudan, including more than 2.6 million women and girls of reproductive age who have barely any access to contraception, pregnancy-related services, or treatment programmes for sexually transmitted infections, or response services for sexual violence, which is reported to be rising as the crisis escalates,

The agency said 260,000 pregnant women in Sudan, including 90,000 expected to give birth in the next three months, could be affected by ongoing fuel shortages and power cuts that have forced many hospitals to suspend emergency obstetric and neonatal care services.

We are running out of fuel,” said Sarah, a midwife at Khartoum’s UN-supported Ombada Hospital. “If the electricity cuts persist, we don’t know how we will be able to assist pregnant women giving birth a week from now.”

The agency is set to distribute 10 metric tonnes of life-saving sexual and reproductive health supplies to hospitals and health facilities, and could expand its pilot project to provide solar power, launched in 2022 in several hospitals in Sudan, to health centres in Khartoum, providing round-the-clock electricity for maternity wards, operating rooms, blood bank refrigerators, incubators, and medicine storage facilities.

WFP condemned the looting of humanitarian supplies at its distribution hub in south-central Sudan on Thursday, added to $60 million in assets stolen since the start of the crisis in mid-April.

“This theft of humanitarian food and assets totally undermines these operations at a critical time for the people of Sudan,” the UN agency said. “This must stop.”

The WFP warehouses one of the agency’s largest logistics bases in Africa and represents a “vital lifeline” for operations in Sudan and South Sudan.

Millions will be impacted by this attack,” the agency warned, added that initial reports suggest that food and nutrition supplies, vehicles, fuel, and generators have been looted in the most recent incident.

The armed groups have attacked and looted WFP and partners’ storage facilities on multiple occasions and aid workers have been killed or injured, the agency said.

It added that the ongoing violence could lead an estimated 2.5 million people in Sudan to “slip into hunger in the coming months”.

It warned acute food insecurity in Sudan could reach record levels, affecting more than 19 million people or 40 per cent of the population.

WFP reiterated calls to all parties to the conflict to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian assistance, aid workers, and assets so that the agency’s life-saving work can move forward.

Mr. Elliott, of the IFCR, said a team had been established to support the Sudanese Red Crescent have been mobilizing daily to help those in need. Emphasizing the bravery of volunteers, who are “fearlessly” providing local support, he said an emergency funding appeal and reports of rising malnutrition were also among grave concerns.

He reported that the funding is yet to materialize to address the immediate needs in Khartoum and surrounding areas, good cooperation between UN agencies who continue to reach communities in local areas and provide them with support.

Mr. Elliott added that outside of Khartoum, volunteers were working with communities of internally displaced persons.

He added in Port Sudan, the levels of malnutrition are significant.

Security Council is scheduled to meet on Friday afternoon to consider the Secretary-General’s latest reports on Sudan and take action on the potential renewal of the mandate of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan.

They had established the special political mission in 2020 for an initial year to assist Sudan, then had renewed it annually. The UN Mission mandate is set to expire on Saturday.

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