UN aid chief decries 'egregious' breaches of Sudan humanitarian pledge
The UN aid chief underlines that assistance must be scaled up dramatically to respond to the spiraling situation in Sudan.
UN aid chief Martin Griffiths decried on Thursday multiple serious breaches of an agreement by Sudan's warring parties last week to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure and to allow the passage of badly needed aid.
Griffiths welcomed the May 12 declaration signed in the Saudi city of Jeddah by the two sides in Sudan's bloody conflict vowing to refrain from attacking humanitarians delivering desperately-needed aid.
He told AFP that "there are breaches of the declaration however, which are important and egregious, and which have happened since the signing."
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) confirmed on Wednesday that its Khartoum warehouse had been raided a day earlier, while Griffiths pointed to an attack the same day on the World Food Programme (WSF) office in the Sudanese capital among "many" examples.
"We are naturally enough building up a record of such events, and we will be talking to the two parties about them as the process goes forward," he stressed.
The UN aid chief underlined that assistance must be scaled up dramatically to respond to the spiraling situation in Sudan since the conflict erupted on April 15 between army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who leads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
#Sudan is plunged into complete chaos one day after clashes broke out between the #Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and a paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). pic.twitter.com/C4zxUOWKEJ— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) April 16, 2023
WFP lost nearly $56 million
Only one month in, around 1,000 people have been killed, mainly in and around Khartoum, as well as in the long-troubled western region of Darfur.
The UN highlighted on Wednesday that half of Sudan's population needs humanitarian aid and that more than $3 billion will be needed this year alone to provide urgent assistance inside the country and to those fleeing across its borders.
Griffiths considered that this was "a very modest appeal" given the enormous needs, urging donors to step up.
Hopes for a ceasefire remain dim after multiple truces were violated in the past weeks. While discussions in Jeddah to reach a ceasefire are underway, Griffiths explained that the negotiations around the declaration signed last were separate.
They were focused on ensuring that aid could flow even if the fighting continues and to help bring an end to the attacks and looting that depleted food stocks and put most health facilities in Khartoum out of service.
The WFP told AFP on Thursday that since the start of the conflict, it had lost nearly $56 million due to looted food, stolen cash and fuel, and damaged or stolen vehicles and office equipment.
"That's an enormous and shocking figure, a disgraceful figure," Griffiths expressed.
Read more: 200,000 Sudanese have sought refuge in neighboring countries
Khartoum 'one of the most dangerous places in the world'
The UN aid chief acknowledged that it could take time for the May 12 declaration to filter down to people on the ground, adding that important work is being done at the local level to ensure aid can get through.
"Getting dependable local agreements of safety and security for humanitarian safe passage, for supplies and people" have for instance enabled UNICEF to begin moving supplies in an area south of Khartoum, he said.
Griffiths admitted that Khartoum remains "one of the most dangerous places in the world" for humanitarians to work.
In Darfur, he warned of the "dangerous and added ethnic element, which by the way is now facing the whole country."
According to medics, violence in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, has killed hundreds and caused the health system to "collapse".
Griffiths noted that Darfur "was a place of dire need and extraordinary insecurity and great fragility" even before the latest crisis, adding that the renewed conflict was "just inconceivably dreadful for its people."
He confirmed that efforts were underway to organize aid deliveries across the border from Chad into Darfur, hoping that airlifts could be organized "maybe out of Nairobi" into Darfur and Khartoum.
At the same time, Griffiths lamented that due to continued bureaucratic hurdles, "we're still having difficulty moving supplies that are coming into Port Sudan" further into the country.
According to the UN aid chief, this situation could be fixed, and "it should be done urgently."
Read more: Pressure by 'all possible means' needed to halt Sudan fighting: UN