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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Sudan in crisis: Calls for ceasefire and humanitarian aid

Conflict, violence and a lack of humanitarian aid have left civilians of Sudan vulnerable and in need of urgent assistance.

Sudan has been facing a severe crisis for more than a week now, with reports of fighting and violence spreading across the country. The situation has become untenable for civilians who are left without food or water, and some hospitals have stopped working. The Red Cross has warned that people are making desperate attempts to flee the country. 

Unsustainable

The humanitarian crisis in Sudan is worsening by the day. Many people are left without basic necessities such as food and water, and hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of injured people. The internet has been down since Sunday night, making communication difficult. The situation is so dire that the spokeswoman from Red Cross, Alyona Synenko, has warned that it is impracticable for civilians.

Reports suggest that convoys leaving the capital, Khartoum, have encountered robbery and looting. People who have managed to escape the city have spoken of corpses lying on the streets. The situation is so dangerous that several nations have already completed the evacuation of their diplomats and civilians, while others are still in the process of doing so.

Risk and Danger for People Leaving Khartoum

South African diplomat Clayson Monyela has stated that all routes out of Khartoum, a city of six million people, are risky and dangerous. He has called for a ceasefire to allow people to leave and aid to enter the country. Many civilians have resorted to risky means to flee the violence, including walking for days through the desert or crossing into neighbouring countries on foot. Those who have left Khartoum have headed to other parts of Sudan where they have family ties, leaving parts of the city centre completely deserted. 

Read More: Sudan’s troubling path to democracy

Officials in neighbouring South Sudan have stated that approximately 10,000 refugees who arrived in recent days came from Eritrea, Kenya, and Uganda, as well as from Sudan and South Sudan themselves. Many foreign students from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East are still trapped in Khartoum.

Efforts of Evacuation 

Multiple countries have stepped up efforts to evacuate diplomats and civilians from Khartoum. By Monday, about 1,100 European Union citizens had been taken out of Sudan. The US airlifted fewer than 100 people by helicopter on Sunday in a “fast and clean” operation. The UK government has airlifted British diplomats and their families out of the country, and Canada has evacuated its diplomatic staff.

Turkey, a key player in Sudan, began evacuation efforts by road from the southern city of Wad Medani on Sunday, but plans from one site in Khartoum were postponed after a nearby explosion. More than 150 people – mostly citizens of Gulf countries, as well as Egypt, Pakistan, and Canada – were evacuated by sea to Saudi Arabia. Long lines of UN vehicles and buses were seen leaving Khartoum on Sunday, heading east towards Port Sudan on the Red Sea and carrying “citizens from all over the world,” according to a Sierra Leonean evacuee.

Impact on Darfur and Chad

The western region of Darfur has also been badly affected by the fighting. The UN has warned that up to 20,000 people – mostly women and children – have fled Sudan to seek safety in Chad, across the border from Darfur. The UN’s World Food Programme has warned that the fighting could plunge millions more Sudanese into hunger in a country where a third of the population already struggles to get enough to eat. 

Read More: 427 Pakistanis safely arrive in Port Sudan for repatriation

The situation in Sudan is critical with civilians lacking basic necessities and no security to collect the bodies of the dead. Many people have been forced to risk their lives to escape the violence. A ceasefire is urgently needed to address the humanitarian crisis and allow aid organisations to reach those affected. Without it, the situation is likely to worsen and more lives will be at risk.