Amid grim conditions in Sudan, the United Nations and partners scramble to aid both those remaining and those fleeing the fighting, a UN spokesman said on Wednesday.
“The humanitarian situation in Sudan remains dire,” said Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “The World Health Organization says that nearly one-third of health facilities are completely closed due to attacks, some having been converted to military bases.”
Haq said that while agencies and partners attempt to aid those in need in-country during a 72-hour cease-fire, the world organization prepares for refugee influxes across the region, including the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates some 270,000 people could flee into South Sudan and Chad alone.
“In South Sudan, our humanitarian partners are scaling up their presence in key response areas to help the most vulnerable people,” and in Chad, the UNHCR is working with the government to assess the needs of arriving evacuees, said Haq.
The UNHCR appeals to all neighbouring countries to keep their borders open to people seeking safety and protection.
The UN secretary-general’s special representative for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba, and the special representative on violence against children, Najat Maalla M’jid, issued a joint statement on the conflict. They were alarmed at the reported numbers of civilians killed or maimed in hostilities, including children, and at attacks on hospitals and the denial of life-saving humanitarian aid to a population already in dire need of food, water and other essential supplies.
The secretary-general’s special representative for Sudan, Volker Perthes, said he continues regular contact with the opposing leaders of the fighting, urging them to cease hostilities and allow for humanitarian pauses.
Before the temporary cease-fire began on midnight Monday, the United Nations and many aid partners fled the capital of Khartoum for Port Sudan on the Red Sea. Some international UN staff who could work remotely were temporarily assigned posts outside the country.
The UN Mission in South Sudan has supported the successful evacuation of 17 humanitarian workers from UN agencies, funds, programs and international nongovernmental organizations by air from Darfur into South Sudan, and will continue to liaise with all partners to assist evacuation efforts, where necessary, Haq said.