UN: Sudan among ‘worst humanitarian disasters in recent memory’

UN: Sudan among ‘worst humanitarian disasters in recent memory’
UN: Sudan among ‘worst humanitarian disasters in recent memory’

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Sudanese refugees gather as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams assist the war-wounded from West Darfur, Sudan, in Adre hospital, Chad. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, March 21 — After nearly a year of war, Sudan is suffering one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history, the United Nations warned yesterday, slamming the international community for its lack of action.

Fighting between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, has since April killed tens of thousands and led to acute food shortages and a looming risk of famine.

“By all measures — the sheer scale of humanitarian needs, the numbers of people displaced and facing hunger — Sudan is one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent memory,” said Edem Wosornu, director of operations at the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

“A humanitarian travesty is playing out in Sudan under a veil of international inattention and inaction,” Wosornu told the Security Council on Wednesday on behalf of UNOCHA head Martin Griffiths.

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“Simply put, we are failing the people of Sudan,” she added, describing the population’s “desperation.”

The United States, the top donor for Sudan, later Wednesday announced another US$47 million in humanitarian assistance.

Julieta Valls Noyes, the top US diplomat dealing with refugees, made the announcement in Chad as she met Prime Minister Succes Masra, saying the aid would go to neighbouring countries welcoming Sudanese refugees including Chad and South Sudan — themselves among the world’s poorest nations.

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According to the UN, the conflict has seen more than eight million people displaced.

The Security Council earlier this month called for an immediate ceasefire during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and urged better access to humanitarian aid.

But “I regret to report that there has not been major progress on the ground,” Wosornu told the Council Wednesday.

In total, more than 18 million Sudanese are facing acute food insecurity — a record during harvest season, and 10 million more than at this time last year — while 730,000 Sudanese children are thought to suffer from severe malnutrition.

Griffiths warned the Security Council last week in a letter seen by AFP that “almost five million people could slip into catastrophic food insecurity in some parts of the country in the coming months.”

UN World Food Programme deputy executive director Carl Skau said Wednesday, “If we are going to prevent Sudan from becoming the world’s largest hunger crisis, coordinated efforts and joined up diplomacy is urgent and critical.”

He cautioned there is a “high risk” the country could see famine levels of hunger when the agricultural lean season begins in May.

Malnutrition is “already claiming children’s lives,” Wosornu said, adding that humanitarian experts estimate some 222,000 children could die of the condition in the coming weeks and months.

Additionally, she said, children weakened from hunger are at a higher risk of dying from other preventable causes, as more than 70 per cent of the country’s health infrastructure has collapsed. — AFP

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