We cannot work under barrel of gun in Sudan – UN

Martin Griffiths

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, says warring factions in Sudan should stop targeting aid workers and civilians.

“Humanitarians cannot work under the barrel of a gun,” Griffith said in a statement on Saturday, adding that the warring factions must respect international law as the conflict in the country reached three-month mark.

For three months now, the people of Sudan have endured unspeakable suffering amid violence that is tearing their country apart.

“As the conflict enters its fourth month, the battle lines are hardening, making it ever more difficult to reach the millions of people who need urgent humanitarian assistance,” he said.

More than three million people have been displaced due to the conflict both within Sudan and across its borders.

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The fighting, which broke out in mid-April has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people and injured over 12,000, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Health workers and facilities have also been attacked many times, limiting access for those in need.

With the onset of the rainy season, there is an increased risk of outbreaks of water- and vector-borne diseases, compounded by challenges in waste management and shortages of supplies.

Children are among the worst affected, with an estimated 13.6 million – roughly half the number remaining in Sudan – in urgent need of assistance.

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Describing Sudan as “one of the world’s most difficult places for humanitarian workers to operate,” Griffiths emphasised the collaborative efforts of local organizations and international aid groups in delivering life-saving supplies.

However, he said the work couldn’t be carried out when relief workers themselves, are at risk.

“But we cannot work under the barrel of a gun. We cannot replenish stores of food, water and medicine if brazen looting of these stocks continues. We cannot deliver if our staff are prevented from reaching people in need,” Griffiths said.

He underlined that ultimately, the suffering of Sudanese people will end only when the fighting stops, and called on the parties to the conflict to abide by the Declaration of Commitments they signed in Jeddah to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law.

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Drawing attention to the recent discovery of mass graves in West Darfur, Griffiths highlighted the fear of a resurgence of ethnic killings in the region.

“Each day the fighting continues, the misery deepens for Sudanese civilians.

“We must all redouble our efforts to ensure that the conflict in Sudan does not spiral into a brutal and interminable civil war with grave consequences for the region.

“The people of Sudan cannot afford to wait,” the UN official said.


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