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Sudan’s cocktail of war and flooding leaves people trapped, unable to flee

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To provide lifesaving aid to those forced out of Sudan, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), revised its original $1.4 billion appeal to $1.5 billion.

Ewan Watson, Head of Global Communications at the UN agency, said that the funding would assist and protect up to 3.3 million people forced to flee the violence and “near-famine conditions”, for the next six months.

Horrific though that is, it is not just about famine, it’s about brutal human rights violations, it’s about floods that are expected to be the worst in many years this year, and that not only hampers the delivery of humanitarian aid, but it means that people are trapped where they are with little aid and not able to flee.”

A woman and her daughter are among some 180,000 Sudanese refugees awaiting relocation from the border area in eastern Chad.

A woman and her daughter are among some 180,000 Sudanese refugees awaiting relocation from the border area in eastern Chad.

Fleeing a brutal war

The war in Sudan began 14 months ago when rival militaries the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) clashed following rising tensions linked to a transition to civilian rule.

According to UNHCR, thousands leave Sudan “every day, fleeing brutal violence and abuse, death, disrupted services, limited access to humanitarian aid” in addition to looming famine.

Looting and lawlessness

Echoing those concerns, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humaitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that tens of thousands of people had been displaced in recent days following clashes between the SAF and RSF in Sinja, in the southeastern state of Sennar.

There are reports that armed men ransacked and looted homes and shops and occupied government buildings,” said spokesperson Vanessa Hugenin.

She highlighted additional insecurity in Abu Hujar and nearby Ad Dali, noting that the vast majority of those uprooted by the violence were moving east toward neighbouring Gedaref State.

“We and our humanitarian partners in Gedaref are preparing for the arrival of people displaced by the clashes in Sinja, with enough food and nutrition supplies on hand to meet the needs of tens of thousands of people,” she said.

Many families have fled to the relative safety of Port Sudan.

© WFP/Abubakar Garelnabei

Many families have fled to the relative safety of Port Sudan.

Forced to cut rations

With additional funding, UNHCR plans to bolster assistance to refugees and host communities in Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, South Sudan and Uganda.

Only 19 per cent of the required funds for UNHCR’s refugee response have been received thus far, meaning that food rations have had to be “drastically cut”, Mr. Watson said.

For instance, in the Central African Republic, 24,000 refugees “remain without any form of humanitarian aid”, while 180,000 new arrivals in Chad are still waiting to be relocated away from border areas, he noted.

In Egypt, nearly 75,000 refugee children are not enrolled in school, while in South Sudan, refugee camps and settlements are severely overcrowded.

“Neighbouring countries have shown great solidarity in welcoming those fleeing the war, but services in host communities remain overstretched, making it extremely difficult for refugees to settle, make a living and rebuild their lives,” said Mr. Watson.

Since the conflict started, 10 million people have fled their homes in Sudan, with many displaced multiple times in search of safety. Of these, nearly two million people have arrived in neighbouring countries, with 7.7 million newly internally displaced and 220,000 refugees who have self-relocated within the country.



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