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Humanitarian Aid Alone Is Not Enough To Help Sudan – Experts Warn

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Sudan Aid
Sudan Aid

Source: Ishara Callan

Washington DC: Leading geopolitical and development experts have warned that humanitarian aid alone is not enough for Sudan, international support must be coupled with development efforts and peacebuilding.

To mark the passing of one year of Sudan’s civil war, experts gathered to explore prospects for Sudan’s successful democratic transition, the future role of the US military, the ongoing humanitarian crisis and aid delivery, and long-term solutions for displacement at an event titled “Sudan’s Path Forward: Peace, Transition and Humanitarian Response “ hosted by the North Africa Institute (NAI) at the Foreign Policy Institute (FPI) of the Johns Hopkins SAIS “. Opening the discussion and touching upon the history of the region, Hafed Al-Ghwell, Executive Director of the North Africa Initiative (NAI) and Senior Fellow at the SAIS Foreign Policy Institute (FPI), said: “Some of us, from that part of the world, have observed this repetitive pattern that is happening in Sudan, Libya, and even in places like Chad. My own take on that region is that it needs to be looked at as a whole, and dealt with as a whole. The region is impacted by colonial powers’ arbitrary border-drawing, which divided ethnic groups and created artificial states. What they failed to note is that across borders people share similarities in terms of tribal religion and historical affiliations.”

Ambassador (Ret) Donald E. Booth, Former US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan stressed that the reconstruction in Sudan will be long process.

“This question of reconstruction is going to take a generation—at least—to rebuild the civil education system, which has been destroyed, and health systems were destroyed. So many people in the urban areas lost everything. The farming output has also declined drastically.

But rebuilding—which I know from my experience in Liberia in the early 2000s—it’s a very lengthy process and it takes a lot of help from the outside. And Sudan is going to face stiff competition, because hopefully, we will also be rebuilding Gaza and rebuilding Ukraine at the same time.”

“I was in Khartoum on August 17 2018, when the constitutional declaration was signed, but that evening, I went down to Freedom Square. Atleast a million young Sudanese were on the streets celebrating. Finally, they had some civilian governance. I think this is what the youth of Sudan want, and they are the majority of the population, and one can hope that they will be able to prevail with our support and coverage.”

Fadi Abilmona, UNDP Regional Advisor to Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen, said: “Humanitarian aid alone, while a must, is not enough. I will try to make the case for development in the context of this cycle of violence in Sudan- is a necessity and not an option.”

“One is that when you combine humanitarian development and peacebuilding efforts together from the onset, they’re more likely to meet the needs of the affected populations.

But our experiences have also debunked prevailing wisdom in the sense that there’s no sequence to this. It’s not that we start just with the humanitarian, then do development and then peace.

The three responses are more effective when carried out with it and this is what so many practitioners would call the Nexus or the Humanitarian Development Peace Nexus approach.”

Dr Nada Fadul, Vice Chair of the Sudanese American Public Affairs Association (SAPAA), said:

“Just in the past two weeks, over 100,000 people have been displaced from the region. So, this is an active conflict that’s leading to active displacement on a weekly basis. The UN has asked for about 2.7 billion dollars in humanitarian assistance. And, you know, only 10% of that has been met by pledges.”

She added, “I’m also very concerned about the potential for the spread of disease. You know, vaccine-preventable diseases are not going to be preventable anymore in the fear of the humanitarian crisis that is happening. We’ve already seen the emergence of things like measles, and we’re going to be looking at, you know, things like Mpox and other preventable diseases spreading in the region and beyond the borders of Sudan.

The outbreak of cholera in the Red Sea area and eastern Sudan was one of the largest in the world a few months ago. And we’re looking at that flood season that’s coming in very soon. And we anticipate that that’s going to be another major outbreak. So, I think when we look at the situation in Sudan, we shouldn’t really isolate ourselves into the borders of Sudan; we should think broadly about how this can impact the whole region.”

The event’s discussion also identified the following solutions to Sudan’s ongoing crisis:

● Convening with the external actors to sort out their conflicting interests in the region.

● Reforming the Sudan security sector in an inclusive way for all its armed groups, as there are currently 40 armed groups in Sudan.

● Food aid alone is not enough. It needs to be coupled with revitalising the agricultural sector, which can be done by providing subsidies and fertiliser seeds. Moreover, support must be given to communities and the cultural sector to allow people to purchase their food and partially address the affordability issue.

● It is critical to preserve human capital in Sudan by investing in solutions that will prevent collapse and safeguard the continuation of local institutions that provide services.

Hafed Al-Ghwell, Executive Director of the North Africa Initiative (NAI) and Senior Fellow at the SAIS Foreign Policy Institute (FPI) moderated the discussion with Former US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan and Ambassador (Ret) Donald E. Booth, UNDP Regional Advisor (Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Yemen) Fadi Abilmona, and Vice Chair of the Sudanese American Public Affairs Association (SAPAA) Dr Nada Fadul.

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