OCHA (UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) is now reporting that the Sudan conflict, which broke out on Sat 15th April has driven the exile of 736,200 people across Sudan, and 200,000 more people have fled into neighbouring countries, including Chad, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Central African Republic, seeking protection and humanitarian aid.
Despite the signature of the Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan by both parties (SAF & RSF) in Jeddah on Fri 12th, May, the daily violence, including heavy gunfire and carjackings in Khartoum, continues to escalate. And the intense violence continues to disrupt the provision of life-saving humanitarian aid, supplies of medicines and access to medical facilities, across Sudan, a country situated in the Sahara Desert and already deemed one of the poorest and most conflict-ridden in the world with the harshest of climates.
Amid the conflict, grocery items are being sold at double the normal price and banks endeavour to stay open but with little or no cash available and long queues to withdraw money are being reported, especially in the Blue Nile region. And the International Swift is closed. Of the three mobile networks operating in the country, only Zain is currently working with a weak signal. And Sudan media moved to Port Sudan and then their building was destroyed in Khartoum. Fuel is only available on the black market at $11 per litre, and bus tickets to Egypt have increased from $67 to $832.
With a team of 230 Sudanese staff, GOAL works with conflict-affected people and displaced populations in two remote regions of Sudan – North Darfur and South Kordofan. In North Darfur, it is reported that the situation is calm but uneasy. Markets are partially open; fuel cannot be sourced, and banks are closed. In South Kordofan, attacks north of the South Kordofan border are being monitored, and the effects could move south. And incidents of robberies and break-ins by criminal gangs have been reported in some areas and on major roads into Kordofan.
Paul Westbury, GOAL’s Regional Security Advisor for East Africa, said: “The security situation in Sudan is fragile and extremely unpredictable. Heavy gunfire, car hijackings, widespread looting and robberies continue to be reported across Khartoum. And fighting is raging in Sudan’s West Darfur region, despite the ceasefire, with Arab militias targeting warehouses, markets, and homes. In the rest of the country, most notably in the Blue Nile region, South and West Kordofan and El Fasher, the situation is reportedly calm. The safety of our staff remains our utmost priority, and these circumstances have made the ongoing delivery of vital humanitarian aid by our teams in North Darfur and South Kordofan extremely challenging.”
John Rynne, Interim Country Director for GOAL Sudan, said: “In the past week alone, an additional 600,000 displaced people have been reported. Our staff in North Darfur and South Kordofan are working hard to continue to deliver existing aid programmes and respond to this unprecedented displacement crisis amid an increasingly challenging operating environment, in which the cost of basic goods is skyrocketing, and there is limited access to fuel, broadband, or banking services.”
“Despite these challenges, our staff are managing shipments of medical supplies into Port Sudan and liaising with Irish Aid and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to request vital stocks of non-food items to support the response in Ethiopia and South Sudan, where thousands of displaced people are crossing the border every day” continued John Rynne.