South Kordofan: Humanitarian assistance continues despite extremely limited access

Kadugli residents gathered outside UNMIS compound to seek shelter after fighting broke out in the town during the first week of June. Credit: UNMIS/Paul Banks.
The security situation in South Kordofan remains tense, but humanitarian partners are helping people in need despite extremely limited access.

The security situation in Sudan’s South Kordofan State remains tense and volatile. According to the latest OCHA situation report, daily gunfire and aerial bombardments were reported to the south of Kadugli between 30 June and 5 July, and at least ten large explosions were heard in the north of Julud on 30 June.

The conflict in South Kordofan has led to the displacement of at least 75,000 people so far, and many of the 1.4 million residents of the affected areas are in need of humanitarian aid.

However, humanitarian workers have restricted access to South Kordofan, which makes both assessment and assistance extremely difficult. While UN humanitarian agencies can reach people in Kadugli, access to locations outside the town is still being denied by the authorities. According to the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), this is because of the current security situation and the presence of landmines. UN agencies have repeatedly emphasized the need to allow international NGOs access to the town, since effective delivery depends greatly on partnerships with NGOs and INGOs.

An inter-agency assessment led by HAC in Kadugli town 1-4 July found that in some areas as many as 80% of those who fled their homes following the fighting that started on 5 June have now returned. However, these people urgently need food, water, shelter, and medical assistance. In several neighbourhoods, mines and unexploded ordnance remain a significant threat. HAC will take the lead in removing mines on the western side of Kadugli town, in the mountain areas, while UNICEF and SRCS are organizing mine risk education activities.

The aid organizations already present in Kadugli when the conflict broke out on 5 June - including WFP, UNICEF and WHO - have been able to continue delivering relief items, but with limited supplies and mainly through their national staff. Two WFP/UNICEF convoys and seven UNMIS convoys travelled between El Obeid and Kadugli from 30 June and 5 July, bringing in food and other relief goods. Two UNMIS flights were also allowed to land in Kadugli during the period.

WFP, working through local partners, has assisted approximately 49,800 people with emergency rations, with a further 6,300 people scheduled to receive 103 MT of food in the coming days. The conflict has prevented the entire community from planting their fields, which is a concern for future food security.

In coordination with Sudan Water and Environment Sanitation (WES), UNICEF is continuing to support water chlorination in various locations in South Kordofan. All nine water ‘yards’ in Kadugli town have now been cleansed and 22 hand pumps installed. UNICEF, WHO, and WES are also monitoring water quality across the town.

WHO and UNICEF are providing medical supplies to the Sudanese Ministry of Health, supporting medical services in Rashad, Talodi, and Kadugli itself. The Ministry of Health has received a three-month supply of vaccines for its routine immunization programme, which is enough to cover the whole State for rest of the the rainy season.

With UNMIS scheduled to start withdrawing staff tomorrow, 9 July, humanitarian partners have expressed anxiety about whether there will be adequate logistical and security measures are in place, so that they can to continue to operate effectively after this date.