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UN humanitarian Boss Demands External Action to Halt Fighting in Sudan

Sudan Conflict Khartum
Sudan Conflict Khartum

UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths on Thursday called for international action to stop fighting in Sudan.

Nearly nine months of war have tipped Sudan into a downward spiral that only grows more ruinous by the day. As the conflict spreads, human suffering is deepening, humanitarian access is shrinking, and hope is dwindling. This cannot continue, said Griffiths in a statement. “2024 demands that the international community, particularly those with influence on the parties to the conflict in Sudan, take decisive and immediate action to stop the fighting and safeguard humanitarian operations meant to help millions of civilians,” he said. Now that hostilities have reached the country’s breadbasket in Aj Jazirah State, there is even more at stake, he warned.

More than 500,000 people have fled fighting in and around the state capital of Wad Medani, long a place of refuge for those uprooted by clashes elsewhere. Ongoing mass displacement could also fuel the rapid spread of a cholera outbreak in the state, with more than 1,800 suspected cases reported there so far, said Griffiths. There are also serious concerns about the parties’ compliance with international humanitarian law. Given Wad Medani’s significance as a hub for relief operations, the fighting there — and looting of humanitarian warehouses and supplies — is a body blow to UN efforts to deliver food, water, health care and other critical aid, he said.

Across Sudan, nearly 25 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2024. But intensifying hostilities are putting most of them beyond reach. Deliveries across conflict lines have ground to a halt. And though the cross-border aid operation from Chad continues to serve as a lifeline for people in Darfur, efforts to deliver elsewhere are increasingly under threat, he said. The escalating violence in Sudan is also imperiling regional stability. The war has unleashed the world’s largest displacement crisis, uprooting the lives of more than 7 million people, some 1.4 million of whom have crossed into neighboring countries already hosting large refugee populations, he said. “For Sudan’s people, 2023 was a year of suffering. In 2024, the parties to the conflict must do three things to end it: protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian access, and stop the fighting — immediately,” said Griffiths.

Military conflict broke out in April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group.

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