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Social justice group raises concern over humanitarian crisis in Sudan

 People displaced by the ongoing conflict in Sudan between the army and paramilitaries wait to receive aid from a charity in Gedaref, Sudan, Dec 30, 2023. [AFP]

A social justice group CARE has raised concern over the increased fighting in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The group which works to defend dignity and fight poverty, providing life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable while seeking a world of hope tolerance and social justice said the cascading impact of the recent violence in El Fasher, not only exacerbates the suffering of the town's residents but also affects communities in neighboring East and South Darfur.

In a statement to the newsroom on Wednesday, Abdirahman Ali, CARE in Sudan Country Director said the necessities such as water, fuel, and medicine remain unattainable due to access impediments and rising costs.

“The town is a key transit point for goods moving through to South and East Darfur; areas that have been adversely affected by the conflict. Communities are already facing extreme shortages of food, amidst the prospect of a looming famine. An escalation in fighting will only increase the humanitarian needs at the worst possible time,” said Ali.

According to Ali, with each passing day, food has become more scarce as farms lay unattended due to ongoing conflict and a lack of farm inputs.

This he said, has resulted in a situation where humanitarian workers, predominantly national staff to operate beyond capacity and face significant risks.

“They struggle to maintain assistance to those in need, despite dwindling resources such as fuel required to operate generators. With the conflict in El Fasher escalating, this means that much-needed items such as fuel cannot get to other parts of Darfur,” he said.

It is now 13 months since the conflict in Sudan brought horrific death, destruction, and mass displacement to millions of Sudanese.

CARE said from April 15, 2023, over 14,000 people have been killed and over 30,000 injured.

United Nations humanitarian agency said nearly a year into the civil war, Sudan currently faces the world's largest international displacement crisis with over 6 million people displaced within the country.

Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, told a meeting of the UN Security Council that so far almost 18 million people are facing crisis levels of food insecurity and tens of thousands of children are at particular risk of death from malnutrition.

Furthermore, nearly 2 million people have fled Sudan altogether with the grim reality indicating that the situation will deteriorate even further as fighting intensifies.

The statement indicated that even before the conflict, in Nyala- South Darfur, doctors were resorting to extreme measures to deliver much-needed healthcare.

“Sometimes we use candlelight during delivery of babies at night, due to lack of power,” said Dr Hana, an obstetrician-gynecologist in one of the CARE-Supported health facilities.

The doctor said they have been working in dire conditions, lacking water and electricity for months putting essential medical supplies at risk.

“We can't cool vaccines, store lab reagents, or preserve medical supplies. This in turn puts the lives of mothers, pregnant women, and children at risk,” she said.

Those most impacted are women and girls who face greater risks of gender-based violence, including sexual violence, as the conflict worsens in El Fasher.

“CARE’s top priority remains the safety and well-being of all individuals in the region. We reiterate our call for an immediate cessation of hostilities,” read part of Ali’s statement.

Ali said their call is crucial not only for preserving lives and protecting civilians but also for facilitating safe, rapid, and unimpeded humanitarian aid delivery to those in need.

“All parties must uphold their international obligations, ensuring the safety of humanitarian workers and critical infrastructure including hospitals We can’t wait any longer because every day of conflict prolongs the suffering of the people of Sudan,” he said.

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