More than 100,000 people have now fled Sudan to neighbouring countries in search of safety, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.
Those fleeing the fighting include Sudanese refugees as well as people who were themselves refugees in Sudan. UNHCR estimates that the number of refugees and returnees may rise to over 800,000.
UNHCR spokesperson, Olga Sarrado, told journalists in Geneva that many of the seven neighbouring countries are already hosting large refugee, and internally displaced populations.
“The majority remain severely underfunded. Asylum countries will need additional support to provide protection and assistance. Among the urgent needs are water, food, shelter, healthcare, relief items, gender-based violence response and prevention, and child protection services.”
WHO warns of many more deaths
With civilians continuing to be caught in the crossfire between the warring militaries – with much of the fighting taking place in urban areas – the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that “many will die” due to lack of essential services, as well as disease outbreaks, said UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, at the regular briefing in New York on Tuesday.
“Medical stockpiles are running critically low in areas ravaged by the fighting – including in the capital Khartoum, and West and Central Darfur. And the prices of basic commodities, from fuel to food staples and bottled water, has risen by 40 to 60 per cent or more in some areas.”
More than 330,000 displaced
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that more than 334,000 people have been displaced inside Sudan, since the conflict between the national armed forces of Sudan’s ruling general, and that of his deputy’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia, erupted more than two weeks ago.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided critical water, sanitation and hygiene support to six hospitals in Khartoum, as well as water trucking to a hospital in North Darfur, continued Mr. Haq. The agency has also directed health and nutrition kits to health centres in the state capital, El Fasher.
The Deputy Spokesperson said that in Chad and Sudan, the UN planned to bring in roughly 70,000 core relief items, from global stockpiles.
“And in Egypt, UNHCR and other UN agencies are conducting a mission to assess the needs of people coming from Sudan. The UN and Egyptian Red Crescent are delivering water, food, wheelchairs, and hygiene and sanitary kits to new arrivals”, he added.
Interagency response plan
UNHCR plans to launch an interagency regional refugee response plan to address urgent financial needs, as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, in an appeal to donors, the UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) said on Tuesday that aid agencies and partners are facing a huge funding gap of $1.5 billion for the Sudan response.
Read our explainer here, on how Sudan ended up on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe today.
The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, is in the region and due to be in the UN humanitarian hub of Port Sudan, shortly.
Senior humanitarians are temporarily based in the Sudanese city on the Red Sea coast, after relocating from the capital Khartoum, pledging to remain and rebuild the UN aid effort to serve the millions of Sudanese in need.
Supporting women: UN News interview
In an in-depth interview with UN News, the Sudan Representative for UN Women, Adjaratou Fatou Ndiaye, said that they were providing financial and technical support to young Sudanese women, who are using app technology to keep themselves safe, and track the availability of food and medicine, along with finding safe routes away from the fighting.
She said the UN was tracking cases and allegations of gender-based violence, working closely with the UN rights office OHCHR, and taking measures to support victims and ultimately, bring perpetrators to account.
She said after five years living in Sudan, she felt strongly that the Sudanese “deserve a peaceful country. They deserve development. They deserve safety.”
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