Over one million people have now been recorded as displaced, within Sudan or to neighboring countries.
NEW YORK, United States of America, May 19, 2023 – As heavy fighting continues in Sudan, UN humanitarians warned on Friday that more than one million people have now been forced to flee for their lives.
A wave of deadly attacks reportedly targeted West Darfur’s capital, El-Geneina, in recent days, while the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said that more than 700 people had been killed and nearly 5,300 injured nationwide, after five weeks of intense clashes and bombardment.
“Over one million people have now been recorded as displaced, within Sudan or to neighboring countries,” said UNHCR Spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh, as he issued an urgent appeal to respect the safety of civilians and to allow humanitarian aid to move freely, in line with an agreement reached by the warring parties in Jeddah, on 11 May.
‘Flagrant violations’ of agreement
Under that accord between the national army and rival RSF militia, both sides agreed to allow trapped civilians to leave combat zones and allow humanitarian aid to enter.
Civilians will continue to suffer unless this deal is implemented, the UNHCR spokesperson insisted, echoing UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths’s condemnation of “flagrant violations” of the humanitarian agreement:
“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen in the last couple of days is continued horrendous fighting on the ground, shelling, bombing and it’s extremely important that what was committed to in Jeddah is enacted on the ground so that much needed aid can come in”.
Attacks on healthcare continue
Confirming that health facilities and health professionals have continued to be targeted since fighting broke out on 15 April, WHO spokesperson Carla Drysdale told journalists in Geneva that there have been 34 verified attacks, eight deaths and 18 injuries.
Sudan’s neighboring countries continue to be affected by the conflict, especially South Sudan, Chad, and particularly Egypt, which currently hosts the largest number of Sudanese, with 5,000 arriving every day. “That makes a total of almost 110,000 Sudanese who have entered the country, according to the Government,” said Mr. Saltmarsh.
Crowding at the borders
In South Sudan, the numbers of refugees remains high, with around 1,500 arriving per day. Those fleeing the violence use via the Renk crossing in Upper Nile State, although “the transit facility near the border is becoming perilously crowded and resources are extremely stretched”, the UNHCR official noted.
In Chad, essential relief items such as safe drinking water and blankets have been delivered to almost 10,000 families, but UN humanitarians have warned that new arrivals are stuck in remote transit sites near the border, with very limited supplies.