At the end of a three-day mission to Sudan, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock has urged the international community to step up support to the humanitarian response to 7.1 million vulnerable people and invest in the country’s social-economic development.
ERC Lowcock has stressed that unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to people in need across Sudan is critical for the delivery of relief.
During his mission, he met Government officials and humanitarian partners, and visited settlements for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Murta and Kulba settlements in South Kordofan state capital, Kadugli at the edge of the Nuba mountains. Most of the nearly 200,000 IDPs, 35,000 refugees and thousands of returnees in the Kadugli are women and children seeking a respite from years of hardship.
Among the IDPs he met during his visit, ERC Lowock spoke with Fatima, a mother of five, living in a stick and grass one-room shelter. Last year, she had walked two days with her kids to reach Kadugli.
ERC Lowcock also visited a clinic in Kadugli funded by OCHA’s Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF) and the Office of the US Foreign Disaster Assistance. “UN agencies and their partners in South Kordofan, in Sudan, are coming together to make a difference”, he said during the visit. With SHF funding WHO, UNICEF, WFP and partners are running a health clinic providing critical support and care to malnourished children.
“Millions of people face serious and growing humanitarian needs. Many have suffered for the past 15 years, but we cannot let them slide back into a situation where they become completely dependent on humanitarian assistance,” ERC Lowcock said, urging the international donor community to support the immediate, life-saving response. He also underlined the need to scale up longer-term development assistance to help Sudan move beyond recurrent cycles of emergency assistance, and help build resilience.
He welcomed the Sudanese Government’s efforts to improve humanitarian access to most locations in Sudan, including those controlled by non-state armed groups. Unilateral ceasefires have improved the security situation across Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile. However, skirmishes in recent weeks between armed groups in pockets of Darfur’s Jebel Marra region have caused a renewed wave of internal displacement.
ERC Lowcock stressed it is critical to strengthen social protection mechanisms for the most vulnerable, including returnees, internally displaced people and host communities. He expressed particular concern for women and children and the need to protect them from sexual violence.
Sudan’s humanitarian situation has become increasingly complex as recent food price increases have left many additional people food insecure across the country, unable to afford enough to eat. In addition, recent fuel shortages which have affected humanitarian agencies’ ability to deliver assistance to vulnerable communities.
The United Nations-coordinated Humanitarian Response Plan for 2018 is now asking for $1.4 billion and requirements may rise further as people become increasingly vulnerable. So far this year, donors have provided some $229 million.