ERITREA Breaking News

Opening Remarks at the Noon Briefing by Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations and Advocacy Division for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, New York, 4 August 2023 – Sudan


Thank you, good afternoon.

[UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations] Ted [Chaiban] has set the scene on what we saw in Sudan, so I will maybe give a few maybe additional highlights and not to repeat what he said. And thank you for the opportunity to be here.

Of course, as well as UNICEF and WFP, as Ted has highlighted, I also met a lot of women, children in gathering sites across Port Sudan. I also had the opportunity to see what a normal project looks like in an area called Sinkat, two hours away from Port Sudan.

Let me focus on what I saw and what I heard in Port Sudan.

I spoke with several women, and their stories, I must say, keep me awake at night: You see your home obliterated in one minute, from one minute to the next. A regular trader having access to social security measures, just, you know, getting her insulin injections in, or medication in, in some of the very good hospitals that were in Khartoum, all of sudden finds herself in 48 degree scorching heat in Port Sudan, a territory, a place, in Sudan where people have put it on leave to areas like Sinkat, because of the heat, and she’s in the heat of Sudan, wondering where her next insulin shot is going to come from.

And, in the pursuit of safety, nearly 4 million people have fled the fighting – both inside and outside Sudan, as you know, and this is just in three months. One hundred days on, the stories are not good. One hundred days on, the visibility is not good.

The journey to safety is not an easy one, and women and children, as Ted has highlighted, are particularly vulnerable. We are receiving credible reports of all sorts of horrors and the world needs to wake up and hear this. For those who stay, the situation is not easier. Those who fled also had some challenges.

Thousands of people have been killed and injured in conflicts, again, hotspots like Khartoum Kordofan, Darfur; communities have shattered have been shattered by relentless violence.

The usual and, again, lack of water, power, shelter, most basic services – let’s not forget, Khartoum was the capital and, today, [2.5] million people are in need of humanitarian [aid]. Eighty-five per cent of medical facilities completely unavailable anymore. People used to travel from all parts of the country to Khartoum to seek medical services. Today, where do they go? Some of them are saying there is no hope – some have said that to me.

More than 40 per cent of people in Sudan are facing high levels of food insecurity. I believe our WFP colleague was here last week raising some of these concerns. Six million people are just one step away from famine. Rent that cost $600 a month in Port Sudan costs $2,000 a month. The civil servant who was getting a salary every month is no longer getting that salary every month. And he has to pay, or she has to pay, now $2,000, civilians in Port Sudan and other locations, not to think about what Medani and some of the other towns, that are now exploding with internally displaced people.

People are hosting people, friends are hosting friends, family are hosting family, and they don’t have salaries for their children and their families, let alone for their friends and family, extended families.

The good news, I mean, [in] this gloom, is that we are able to deliver humanitarian assistance wherever we can. Ted has talked about some of the numbers; let me give you a few overall figures as well.

Ninety-three humanitarian partners reached at least 2.5 million people with some sort of life-saving assistance across Sudan between April and June. Let’s not forget the target is [18] million people.

Twenty-four million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, of which the target is 18 million. Twenty-four million people is half the population of a country that, before 15th of April, was doing not too bad. There were needs, but we were now targeting people in the capital.

We have been able to get to hard-to-reach areas. We’re able to move trucks from Port Sudan to Darfur and this is through deconfliction – talking to the parties to the conflict, allowing us to move goods as we could. OCHA, in support to the entire humanitarian system, was able to facilitate some 35,000 metric tonnes – 780 trucks – of relief supplies: UNICEF WFP, WHO, FAO seeds to farmers who need to plant before the situation plummets even further.

Each of these movements requires extensive, painstaking negotiations to ensure that we don’t get more deaths of civilians. Eighteen aid workers have been killed so far, and I say death of civilians, the average the numbers that Ted highlighted – people are dying on a daily basis, humanitarian aid workers were included in that number.

But all of this and all they are doing is a bucket drop in the bucket compared to the true needs, and humanitarian aid is just a band aid: Basic social services have completely broken down, banking systems do not work and schools have collapsed. And again, UNICEF has really highlighted those. Again, the many children I interacted with, children that you and I know, faces that you and I see, saying I just want to go back home. I was in Khartoum, I was playing – and then the bomb dropped. These are children. These are women, these are vulnerable teachers and nurses, people who are living every day, a normal life across the country – not just the population we’re targeting for humanitarian assistance.

To do more, we need funding. This is one of the lowest funding levels I’ve seen for Sudan in a long time. We are barely 25 per cent funded – we are asking for $2.6 billion. […] We are at $625 million received of the $2.6 billion requested, and it is August 2023 – the war started three months ago.

We cannot do more without funding, and that’s clear. You’ve seen an article recently in the New Humanitarian, that INGOs are possibly, you know, losing staff because of an inability to fund the projects.

We also need fewer barriers in place, and Ted alluded to them – the bureaucratic impediments that we’re facing, we are negotiating on a daily, hourly basis with the authorities wherever we can. Unhindered an unconditional access is necessary.

And everyone I spoke to, some people said, I don’t want food, I don’t want water, I just want peace, I want to go home. So this is the message to the parties to the conflict as well.

Ted talked about the mission to Chad, just to save time I was, you know, we were there on the same mission, I wouldn’t get into it.

To avoid further deterioration, let’s not forget Sudan and the impact of Sudan: Sudan has seven borders. And each of these borders, most of these are vulnerable countries: CAR [Central African Republic]; Chad, that has done a phenomenal job of opening its borders; we’ve got Ethiopia; Eritrea; we’ve got South Sudan.

We need to be careful that if the situation in Sudan is not contained, it will have a devastating impact on the region.

Thanks a lot.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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