GENEVA – As the Sudan conflict enters its 100th day, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for an end to the fighting, amid serious concerns about the rapidly escalating numbers of displaced people fleeing in search of safety.
More than 740,000 refugees, including a growing number of refugee returnees, have fled Sudan and arrived to harrowing conditions in neighbouring countries – including Chad, the Central African Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Sudan. Additionally, over 185,000 refugees hosted by Sudan have been forced to move to safer areas within the country, becoming trapped in a relentless cycle of displacement.
The escalation of the conflict in Khartoum, and in the Darfur and Kordofan regions, has triggered massive internal displacement, resulting in civilian casualties and deaths. Disturbing reports of grave human rights violations, including sexual violence and other protection risks during flight, are also on the rise. We are particularly alarmed at a serious health and nutrition crisis unfolding in Sudan’s White Nile State where UNHCR teams on the ground report nearly 300 South Sudanese refugee children dying from suspected measles and malnutrition since the start of the conflict. If the fighting persists, we fear these numbers will continue to increase at an even more alarming rate.
“These figures are staggering; civilians who have nothing to do with this conflict are sadly uprooted from their homes and livelihoods on a daily basis,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “This has to stop. It is time for all parties to this conflict to immediately end this tragic war. Pending this much needed peaceful dialogue, people must be allowed to leave conflict areas to find safety, whether within or outside the country, and be protected from all forms of violence.”
As more people continue to flee, displacement sites within the country and in neighbouring countries are rapidly becoming overcrowded.
The rainy season is also in full swing, further aggravating people’s suffering and complicating the logistics of relocating refugees from border areas. The soaring price of food and fuel is adding to the hardships of already vulnerable families and individuals, while supply chain disruptions and high inflation rates are increasing the cost of delivering humanitarian assistance.
UNHCR is doing everything within its means to provide lifesaving assistance wherever we have access. Together with partners, we are providing hot meals, clean water, healthcare and core relief items and shelter to the newly displaced in Sudan and in neighbouring countries. UNHCR is also providing essential protection, including specialized services to refugee children, survivors of gender-based violence, psychosocial support and mental health care to help families recover from trauma.
Despite the urgency of the crisis, funding has trickled in. Of the $566 million required by UNHCR and other partners for the Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP) to provide assistance in countries neighbouring Sudan, only about a quarter (24 per cent) has been received. The inter-agency response inside Sudan is only 23 per cent funded.
UNHCR urgently appeals for more donor support to be able to assist and protect conflict-affected populations. We also reiterate our calls for safe access for humanitarian workers so that lifesaving aid can reach all those in desperate need.
Since fighting broke out in Sudan in April, over 3.3 million people have been displaced within the country and across borders. UNHCR is grateful to neighbouring countries for keeping their borders open for people fleeing the conflict. We continue to call on all States to remove any impediments to entry for civilians fleeing Sudan – including undocumented individuals – so that people can access safety, protection and assistance.
Prior to the crisis, Sudan was home to 1.1 million refugees, mainly from South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Nearly 4 million people were also internally displaced across the country.
Notes to editors
Inside Sudan, since the start of the conflict, UNHCR has continued and expanded its protection and assistance activities focusing on accessible areas including White Nile State, Blue Nile State, Gedaref and Kassala States. So far, over 292,000 secondarily displaced refugees and internally displaced Sudanese have received core relief items, including shelter. We have also set up new offices in Port Sudan, Jezirah state and at Wad Madani, near the Egyptian border.
In Chad, UNHCR is rushing to scale up existing camp capacities and create new camps with infrastructure and services to relocate refugees to safety away from the border, while stockpiling essential relief items before heavy rains cut access to most of the border areas. In Chad, new arrivals have more than doubled in the past month to reach 260,000.
Similarly in South Sudan, UNHCR-managed transit centres are becoming severely overcrowded due to the continuous influx of people. To mitigate the risk of flooding that will further complicate the delivery of humanitarian aid at remote border areas in South Sudan, we are improving and expanding transit sites for new arrivals, increasing services to meet the needs of the tens of thousands at the border, while continuing to facilitate onward movement and provide life-saving support to those in transit.
In Egypt, the majority of arrivals from Sudan are women and children, in need of food, water, shelter, medical assistance and psychosocial support. Many of the children are without their parents, increasing their vulnerability to violence, abuse and exploitation. UNHCR has scaled up its registration, protection and assistance programmes to cater for the needs of the new arrivals; however timely, predictable and flexible funding is key to enable UNHCR to sustain those programmes.
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