Sudan: UN Humanitarian Chief concludes visit
The United Nation’s Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos has ended her visit to Sudan with a call for all parties to end the conflicts in Darfur, and Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and instead to seek peaceful resolutions to clashes that continue to exact a terrible toll on civilians.
“The people of Sudan have suffered enough,” said Ms Amos at a press conference in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. “What this country needs now is peace, not more war.”
Darfur: “We need to change the way we work”
On Wednesday 22 May, Ms Amos travelled to Darfur to meet government and humanitarian officials and to see first-hand the humanitarian consequences of the region’s decade-long conflict. The UN estimates that there are 1.4 million people across the region who have been displaced by violence and who are living in around 100 camps.
Ms Amos visited the Zam Zam camp for displaced people near El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur. Even now, 10 years since fighting starting, people are arriving there every day, fleeing violence in South and East Darfur. Aid agencies are struggling to meet their needs.
“I was particularly shocked when we visited some of the new arrivals,” said Ms Amos. “I saw people who had recently fled fighting in South Darfur sheltering under small pieces of tarpaulin in the hot desert sun, in desperate conditions.”
Aid agencies have warned that their capacity to support people in Darfur has diminished in recent years, partly as a result of decreased funding.
“We have a serious funding crisis in Sudan,” said Ms Amos. “(But) we also need to change the way we work. After 10 years of major humanitarian operations in Darfur, we need to find more sustainable ways of supporting displaced people who have no other option but to remain in the camps.”
South Kordofan and Blue Nile: “Ordinary people are paying the price”
Ms Amos met with the President of Sudan and other senior government officials to discuss the situation in Darfur, as well as other parts of the country. In South Kordofan and Blue Nile in Sudan’s south, conflict between the government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North(SPLM-N) has displaced or severely affected more than 1.1 million people. Over 180,000 people have been forced to seek refuge in South Sudan.
“People die every day from a lack of access to adequate health facilities, clean water and other basic services,” said Ms Amos. “Ordinary people – men and women, boys and girls, the sick and the elderly – are paying the price.”
Ms Amos renewed her call for all parties to protect civilians and to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. She spoke of detailed reports she had received of recent attacks on civilians by SPLM-N forces in Northern Kordofan and parts of South Kordofan.
“I condemn these attacks on civilians in the strongest terms,” she said.
The UN has called for a week-long ceasefire between the government and SPLM-N so that aid workers can vaccinate 150,000 children under the age of five against polio. Both sides have agreed in principle to the moratorium, that is intended to protect Sudan’s recent and hard-won status of being polio free.
“We will be meeting with both sides to try to resolve this issue so that the vaccination campaign can take place quickly, before the rainy season makes the roads impassable,” said Ms. Amos.