ICRC official rings alarm over aggravating humanitarian situation in Sudan
Sudan prepared to put an end to its worsening political dispute which started almost four years ago.
It did this by reaching consensus on the political framework agreement. The agreement would have allowed the Arab country to move towards a new, calmer and prosperous condition.
However, war broke out between the two most powerful military men in the country. It increased the pains of the people who have been moaning for years from the deterioration of conditions and services at all levels.
The war has caused over 45 million Sudanese citizens to stand on the edge of a volcano of military anger that knows nothing but shelling and sniping;.
The warring parties even ignore calls to save those who survived. The problem is that those who did not die from the war are now dying of hunger and thirst.
The armed conflict in Khartoum has been dragging on for four continuous weeks now. It has made it difficult for humanitarian organizations to carry out their humanitarian role and support those affected. These organizations include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Nevertheless, the Jeddah Agreement came to introduce a ray of light for relief organizations to continue their humanitarian work and support those affected by the war.
For her part, Imene Trabelsi, the ICRC spokeswoman for the Near East and Middle East, spoke in an interview with al-Bawaba News about latest developments and the organization's efforts to provide support to those affected in Sudan.
Trabelsi said the ICRC has been conducting its work in Sudan since 1978.
She stressed that the organization's presence in Sudan is not a by-product of the present time or present conditions.
"Nonetheless, the current crisis that Sudan is going through makes it necessary for the organization to respond to new challenges and emerging needs in addition to the needs that already existed in Sudan," she said.
Making things worse
Trabelsi said in the case of Sudan, we are talking about a humanitarian crisis that existed before the outbreak of the armed conflict.
A third of the population, she said, was dependent on different forms of humanitarian assistance before the last crisis.
She added that about 4 million Sudanese citizens were living in a state of internal displacement.
"This comes in addition to the presence of 1 million refugees in Sudan," Trabelsi said.
She noted that the Sudanese people were moaning about the low humanitarian conditions and the recent crisis came to make things worse.
Trabelsi stressed that with every passing hour and every day, there is a growing and worsening humanitarian crisis in Sudan, in the light of the lack of agreement and respect for the ceasefire for purely humanitarian purposes.
This, she said, greatly hinders the work of humanitarian actors, including the ICRC, and makes the daily life of the population an additional challenge.
Trabelsi confirmed that the situation on the ground is one of a crisis.
"The population is living a very difficult life, especially in areas witnessing an escalation of armed violence," Trabelsi said. "They are struggling to get food, but this is either unavailable or very expensive."
Trabelsi noted that access to water and electricity is becoming more difficult day by day.
She added that this comes in addition to the seriousness of what the health sector is witnessing in Sudan, especially in areas where the fighting is intensifying, specifically in the capital Khartoum.
Video of al-Bawaba News' interview with Trabelsi
Trabelsi said the Sudanese health sector is suffering severely in the light of the crisis conditions.
According to figures announced by health institutions in Khartoum, 80% of the health facilities in the Sudanese capital suspended their activity completely or partially, while only 16% of the health facilities continue their work, she said.
She added that health needs are becoming larger with every passing hour.
Trabelsi added that health workers continue to work in very difficult and impossible conditions to meet medical needs, despite the unavailability of medicines and necessary health supplies.
"This coincides with the interruption of water and electricity in health facilities," Trabelsi said.
Tonnes of relief for trapped in Port Sudan
Trabelsi underscored the importance of speedy action to reduce the difficulties and obstacles plaguing the health and medical sector in Sudan.
However, she said, in the absence of security guarantees, the ICRC was unable to fulfil its role to support emergency needs, especially the semi-collapsed health sector.
She pointed out that on April 30, the ICRC succeeded in delivering the first batch of life - saving relief items to Sudan - medical items weighing 8 tonnes.
This relief aid, she said, had already arrived via Jordanian aviation to Port Sudan.
She noted that until May 2, this aid had been still trapped in the port and that the ICRC was unable to deliver it to hospitals and health centres in Sudan due to lack of necessary security guarantees.
Keeping the bodies of the dead
Trabelsi said the situation in Sudan is more than very critical at all levels.
She added that relief appeals continue for a dilapidated health sector, and residents suffering from an acute shortage of the simplest needs in Khartoum.
Trabelsi pointed out that the cautious calm witnessed in Khartoum at some times enabled some residents stranded without water, food or medicine to get out of their hiding places to get the simplest supplies, while some managed to leave Khartoum for other less dangerous areas.
"The opportunity to escape from Khartoum is not available to everyone," Trabelsi said.
No relief supply delivery
As for the biggest challenges facing the ICRC's work in Sudan, Trabelsi confirmed that the ICRC in Sudan did not evacuate any of its crews before or after the outbreak of the armed conflict.
She pointed out that all the organization's teams that were working in Sudan before the recent events are still present and have not left.
"This comes out of belief in their role as an organization whose mission is to provide relief materials in conflict situations," Trabelsi said.
"But due to difficult security conditions, the Red Cross was unable to carry out the movement of relief materials delivery," she added.
Trabelsi noted that the provision of security guarantees is the responsibility of the parties involved in the conflict.
She explained that the biggest challenges facing the Red Cross teams in Sudan is the inability to move to deliver relief in the absence of the necessary security guarantees, which makes the organization's workers stand in a very difficult situation.
The field teams are present and additional supplies have arrived in Sudan, she said, but with the continuation of the security crisis conditions, the organization has become unable to carry out the necessary relief activities.
"This coincides with the aggravation of humanitarian crises in the country," Trabelsi said.