UN seeks $3bn for Sudan as fighting rages

Published May 18, 2023
A screen grab shows black smoke and fire at Omdurman market in Omdurman, Sudan, May 15, 2023. — Video obtained by Reuters
A screen grab shows black smoke and fire at Omdurman market in Omdurman, Sudan, May 15, 2023. — Video obtained by Reuters

GENEVA: The United Nations on Wednesday said $3.03 billion would be needed to provide urgent aid in conflict-ravaged Sudan and for over one million expected to flee into neighbouring countries this year.

Needs have soared since a bloody conflict erupted in Sudan last month, the UN said, dramatically revising up its response plan.

“Today, 25 million people — more than half the population of Sudan — needs humanitarian aid and protection,” Ramesh Rajasingham, head of the UN humanitarian agency’s Geneva bureau, told reporters. “That is the highest number we have ever seen in the country.”

Battles erupted on April 15 between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who leads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

More than half the country’s population needs aid, says UN official

Around 1,000 people have been killed in and around Khartoum and the ravaged state of West Darfur, according to medics. More than 5,000 people have been injured and millions more remain confined to their homes, unable to access basic services and health care, Rajasingham said.

He also pointed to “worrying reports of increased sexual violence”, and warned “children are especially vulnerable in this chaos that is unfolding”.

The fighting has deepened the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, where one in three already relied on assistance before the war.

The UN said $2.56bn is now expected to be needed to provide assistance inside Sudan — up from $1.75bn estimated at the end of last year. Those funds would allow aid agencies to reach 18 million of the most vulnerable people in the country, Rajasingham said.

He lamented that the humanitarian community had suffered numerous attacks, with aid workers killed, offices and stockpiles looted.

‘Regional crisis’

He voiced hope that an agreement reached by the two sides last week to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure and to let in badly needed aid was having some effect, as fighters had pulled back from some of the health facilities previously occupied. There was an uptick in aid deliveries also, but “we do need much more,” he added.

“The crisis in Sudan is rapidly evolving into a regional crisis.” The UN refugee agency said $470.4 million would be needed to assist those fleeing the country and it was now planning for up to 1.1 million people to leave Sudan this year.

‘Shattered’

“So far, the crisis… resulted in massive outflows into neighbouring countries of about 220,000 refugees and returnees,” Raouf Mazou, assistant chief of operations at the UN refugee agency UNHCR told reporters. In addition, over 700,000 people have been internally displaced in Sudan.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2023

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