Geneva, Aug 25 (EFE).- The ongoing Sudan conflict is “fuelling a humanitarian emergency of epic proportions” amid the international community’s diminishing focus on the situation, the United Nations warned on Friday.
A statement by Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, described the situation in Sudan as a “viral conflict” that “threatens to consume the entire country.”
Griffiths warned that “a protracted conflict in Sudan could tip the entire region into a humanitarian catastrophe.”
Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, read out the statement at a press conference in Geneva.
Stressing that the conflict, now in its fourth month, was not getting the international attention it deserved, Laerke said the UN had presented a $2.57 billion humanitarian response plan for Sudan for 2023.
But, he said, the UN had so far raised only $666.2 million, leaving 74 percent of the plan unmet.
The largest donor has been the United States, with 58 percent of total contributions, followed by the European Commission (12.4 percent) and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (6 percent), which is only used in very urgent situations.
Laerke said aid workers faced a number of obstacles, the biggest of which was the fighting itself.
He said bureaucratic obstacles delayed the departure of aid shipments from Port Sudan — the main access route for humanitarian shipments in the Red Sea.
Laerke said the insufficient number of visas for aid workers was also impeding the humanitarian response.
In addition, aid workers on the ground have to negotiate with those who actually control the area – in some cases the recognised authorities, in others the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
“However, we do not throw our hands in the air and say ‘we can’t do anything here, so go home’. We stay. We try to do whatever we can, as much as we can,” the spokesman said.
The current fighting between the Sudanese army and its military rivals, the Rapid Support Forces, began in April but has its roots in the Darfur conflict that began in 2003.
Then, ethnic hatred led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in what has been described as genocide (documented by UN and human rights investigators).
Although a peace agreement was signed in 2020, the violence never stopped completely. EFE