KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - A senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who has just concluded a week-long visit to the Sudan argued that a combination of clashes, climate shocks and COVID-19 are driving more Sudanese into poverty and threatening the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of people who were already reeling from decades of conflict and violence.
A press release issued by the ICRC on Friday said “one in four Sudanese are estimated to face food shortages today as prices climb and clashes, droughts and floods destroy people’s ability to farm.”
Communities in Blue Nile, South Kordufan and Darfur survived years of war and now face a layered crisis in which sporadic violence, climate change, economic collapse, and COVID-19 are forcing more people to rely on humanitarian aid for their survival,Gilles Carbonnier, the vice-president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said at the end of a visit to the country this week.
"Communities are caught between extremes as clashes, droughts, and floods rob people of their homes and livelihoods again and again," said Mr Carbonnier. "The result is that millions of people in Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur do not have enough food, water, medical care or other necessities to survive, a crisis made more complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, price inflation, and a shortage of basic commodities."
The release said Mr Carbonnier visited Kass locality in South Darfur, where the ICRC is distributing household essentials to 15,600 people who have returned to the area after being displaced by clashes. While in Sudan, Mr Carbonnier met with Chairman of Sudan's Transitional Sovereign Council Lt-Gen (PSC) Abdel Fattah al-Burhan; Deputy Head of the Transitional Sovereign Council Lt-Gen Mohammed Hamdan Daglo; Minister of Justice Dr. Nasraldeen Abdelbari; Governor of South Darfur Mousa Mahdi; Secretary General of SPLM/N Yasir Arman; and Secretary General of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society Dr. Afaf Ahmed Yahya.
It is estimated that around a quarter of the 40 million Sudanese need immediate humanitarian assistance. At the same time, despite the signing of the peace agreement in Juba, the risk of renewed clashes in parts of Darfur and eastern Sudan remains as tensions simmer, occasionally flaring up into clashes that drive people from their homes.
"We must continue to have access to long-neglected communities like Kass that urgently need support," the release quoted Mr Carbonnier as saying. "However, humanitarian assistance alone will not end the cycle of violence, displacement and hunger that has trapped millions of Sudanese for decades. We call on those taking part in clashes to respect people's lives and property so that they can start to rebuild their lives."
The release said ICRC's work in Sudan largely centres around Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur states. In 2020 this work has included providing seeds, farming tools and food to 159,000 people and vaccinating more than 366,000 livestock to protect livelihoods and improve food security. Nearly 150 families also received cash grants to help them start businesses. The ICRC also has provided relief to 9,200 people so far this year, while it has helped improve access to water for about 146,000 people.
In July, the ICRC responded to clashes in the Misterei area of West Darfur, including donating medical supplies to local hospital to help them deal with influxes of injuries.
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