People's Stories Peace

Pain & suffering engulfs children in the State of Palestine & Israel
by UN News, OCHA, UNICEF, agencies
Mid East
The Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented assault on Israel on 7 October, launching thousands of rockets into Israel, with hundreds of gunmen breaching security fences and attacking hundreds of civilians in communities near the Gaza Strip.
Over 1,200 people were killed and 240 people were taken to Gaza as hostages, including women and children, .
The Israeli military declared “a state of war,” and began striking targets in the Gaza Strip, including residential buildings and health care facilities. More than 15,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in air and artillery strikes in response, including about 6,000 children and 4,000 women according to the Gaza Media Office. More than 1.5 million people have been displaced, as parts of Gaza have been reduced to rubble.
6 Dec. 2023
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on the Security Council to “press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza and unite in a call for a full humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants.
UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric explained that the UN chief was taking the step “given the scale of the loss of human life in Gaza and Israel, in such a short amount of time”.
He said Mr. Guterres hoped would put more pressure on the Council - and the international community at large - to demand a ceasefire between the warring parties.
Since the 7 October terror attacks by Hamas militants in southern Israel and the ongoing bombardment and ground operation by Israeli forces into the Gaza Strip, the Security Council passed one resolution in mid-November, after four failed attempts to find consensus previously, calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses”.
Following a week-long pause in hostilities during which some of the 240 hostages being held by militants in Gaza were exchanged for Palestinian prisoners, fighting began again on 1 December, leading the Secretary-General to register his deep regret.
In his letter to the Council president, Mr. Guterres said the more than eight weeks of fighting overall had “created appalling human suffering, physical destruction and collective trauma across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
He highlighted the more than 1,200 “brutally killed” by militants on 7 October, including 33 children, and the 130 people still being held captive. “They must be immediately and unconditionally released. Accounts of sexual violence during these attacks are appalling”, the UN chief added.
As Israel continues to target Hamas fighters, he said civilians throughout the Strip face grave danger, with over 15,000 reportedly killed, over 40 per cent of them children.
Around 80 per cent of Gazans are displaced, over 1.1 million seeking refuge in UN Palestine refugee agency (UNRWA) shelters.
Mr. Guterres said there is simply no effective protection for civilians and nowhere is safe.
“Hospitals have turned into battlegrounds”, he added, saying that amid the constant bombardment of all parts of Gaza “people are without shelter or the essentials to survive, I expect public order to completely break down soon”.
Turning to the 15 November Council Resolution 2712, he said the current conditions were making it impossible to scale up humanitarian supplies, to meet the huge needs of civilians – as the resolution demands.
“We are simply unable to meet those in need inside Gaza”, he wrote, and are facing “a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system.”
The consequences of that have irreversible implications for Palestinians and the peace and security of the entire region, he argued.
“Such an outcome must be avoided at all cost. The international community has a responsibility to use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis.
“I reiterate my appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared. This is urgent. The civilian population must be spared from greater harm.”
He stressed that with a ceasefire, there was hope “humanitarian assistance can be delivered in a safe and timely manner”.
1 Dec. 2023
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke of his deep regret at the resumption of military operations in Gaza on Friday, as UN humanitarians vowed to stay and try to help those in need, while reiterating “nowhere is safe from attacks” in the war-shattered enclave.
The sound of shells exploding shortly after 7am Gaza time was clearly audible at Nasser hospital in the south, where terrified and traumatised youngsters immediately reacted by clinging to their mothers in fright, said James Elder from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“The bombs started just a few seconds after the ceasefire ended,” Mr. Elder told journalists at UN Geneva via video link from Khan Younis, before decrying the “ongoing war on children”.
The return to violence follows the end of a week-long pause in hostilities between Hamas militants and Israeli forces that allowed the delivery of desperately needed fuel, food and water. The pause also enabled the release of some hostages taken during Hamas’s 7 October attack on southern Israel and ensuing massacre of some 1,200 people, and the freeing of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.
UN Chief Guterres led calls for the warring sides to return to the negotiating table to agree on a long-lasting ceasefire to allow desperately needed aid into Gaza.
The UN aid coordination office, OCHA, said that children, women and men in Gaza and Israel "woke up to war" once again on Friday. "Parties to this conflict must protect civilians and provide access to humanitarian actors to deliver across Gaza and according to needs as per international humanitarian law,” said OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke.
"Humanitarian aid must continue unconditionally, hostages must be released unconditionally. The UN will continue to stay and deliver food, water, medical and other critical supplies to save lives.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk urged all parties and States with influence over the warring sides “to redouble efforts, immediately, to ensure a ceasefire – on humanitarian and human rights grounds”.
The “full respect and protection of the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis” remain critically important, Mr. Turk stressed, before calling for an immediate end to the violence and the prompt and unconditional release of all remaining hostages.
He said civilians must be protected in line with international humanitarian law, appealing to Israel “to ensure that the basic needs of the population in Gaza, such as food, water, and medical care, are met.”
23 Nov. 2023
Israel and the armed group Hamas have agreed on a deal for the release of 50 Israeli women and children hostages held in Gaza in return for 150 Palestinian women and children to be freed from Israeli jails during a four-day pause in fighting, that has been extended for a further 3 days. The hostages were taken by the armed militant group Hamas and other forces as part of their violent attack on Israel on October 7.
The Israeli government reaffirmed it will continue the war, after the brief pause in fighting, 'until the terrorist organisation Hamas is defeated and removed from power, so it can never threaten Israel's security again'.
Humanitarians expressed grave alarm at the immense suffering the conflict is inflicting on the civilian population of Gaza. With human rights agencies underlining the fundamental need for respect for international humanitarian law in all conflict situations. The principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality in military operations being of critical importance.
Martin Griffiths, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator: 'I look forward to the implementation of the humanitarian pause and hope it leads to a longer-term humanitarian ceasefire – for the benefit of the people of Gaza, Israel and beyond. As we wait for the pause to come into effect, we renew our call for: Full adherence to international humanitarian law. Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access into and across Gaza so that we can deliver aid to people in need wherever they are. The protection of civilians, including by allowing them to seek safety from hostilities. The immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.
The UN's Palestinian refugee agency Unrwa that is currently hosting close to a million people in its shelters said 200 trucks carrying aid that will be allowed in each of the four days are "very insufficient", given that around 500 trucks used to enter Gaza per day.
* CNN Christiane Amanpour speaks with the United Nations Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths about the ongoing war in Gaza and the UN's call for a ceasefire (21/11):
15 Nov. 2023
Fierce fighting continues in the Gaza strip. More than 1.5 million Gazans are displaced, 18 hospitals have shut down completely, and hundreds of thousands of people are living in fear under ongoing aerial bombardment. There is a desperate need for an adequate supply of food and water for the besieged population.
“Casualties continue to mount, with the dead reportedly exceeding 11,000 people – the majority of them children and women,” says UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Humanitarian Affairs chief, Martin Griffiths.
Mr. Griffiths said that across Gaza, but particularly in the north, food and water supplies are running perilously low, and the lack of fuel means communications and essential services like water desalination are progressively failing.
Across the border, civilians in Israel endure deep pain of their own as they mourn the brutal, inhumane killing of 1,200 people, he added, stressing that the nearly 240 hostages must be released immediately and without condition.
"The situation in Gaza is dire," Natalie Boucly, acting deputy commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), told the U.N. General Assembly.
"1.6 million people have been displaced, out of a total of 2.2 million. It is the largest displacement of Palestinians since 1948," Boucly said. "The scale of destruction and loss is staggering. Entire neighborhoods have been razed to the ground. More than half of the housing units in Gaza are reportedly destroyed. At least 154 UNRWA schools and other buildings have been turned into shelters overnight. They now house more than 810,000 people. That is, half of the displaced population."
"Nowhere is safe in Gaza. The Israeli authorities asked people to move to the south. However, no part of the Gaza Strip has been spared from bombardment. The military escalation in the south of the last few days defies the reassurance that people had received about moving south to be safe. Hospitals, mosques, churches, bakeries, and over 60 UNRWA buildings and schools have been hit across Gaza," she continued, noting that at least 103 of members of her agency have been killed.
"Gaza is under siege. 2.2 million people are being denied access to life's essentials, which amounts to collective punishment. There is simply not enough water, food, medicine, or fuel to sustain life," Boucly added. "There is a collective responsibility on the part of the international community to ensure that this horror ends now."
Mr. Griffiths outlined a humanitarian plan asking for the basic measures required to meet the essential needs of the civilian population.
Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator press briefing:
"The United Nations and its humanitarian partners, present in Gaza for decades, are committed to responding to the mounting humanitarian needs, guided, as always, by the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. We have the expertise, knowhow and most certainly the will.
On behalf of the humanitarian community that I represent, I urge the parties, all those who have influence over them, and the broader international community to do everything in their power to support and implement the following plan:
Facilitate aid agencies’ efforts to bring in a continuous flow of aid convoys and to do so safely. Open additional crossing points for aid and commercial trucks to enter, including Kerem Shalom.
Allow the UN, other humanitarian organizations and public and private sector entities access to fuel in sufficient quantities to deliver aid and provide basic services.
Enable humanitarian organizations to deliver aid throughout Gaza without impediment or interference.
Allow us to expand the number of safe shelters for displaced people in schools and other public facilities across Gaza and ensure that they remain places of safety throughout hostilities.
Improve a humanitarian notification mechanism that would help spare civilians and civilian infrastructure from hostilities and would help to facilitate humanitarian access.
Allow us to set up relief distribution hubs for civilians, in accordance with needs. Allow civilians to move to safer areas and to voluntarily return to their residences.
Fund the humanitarian response, now amounting to $1.2 billion.
Implement a humanitarian ceasefire to allow basic services to restart and essential commercial trade to resume. Such a ceasefire is also vital to facilitate the delivery of aid, allow the release of hostages, and provide respite to civilians".
11 Nov. 2023
Senior UN officials said on Saturday said there could be no justification for any “acts of war” in or around any healthcare facilities.
UN relief and humanitarian affairs chief, Martin Griffiths, said there could be "no justification for acts of war in healthcare facilities leaving them with no power, food or water or for any live fire".
"Hospitals must be places of greater safety and those who need them must trust that they are places of shelter and not of war.”
Principle of proportionality
The UN’s Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lynn Hastings, reinforced the call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, stressing that civilian infrastructure “cannot be used for military operations.”
“Patients, medical staff as well as displaced people taking shelter must be protected”, she said. “Principles of proportionality, distinction must be respected.”
The UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said that the “near total breakdown and attacks on medical and healthcare services”, particularly in northern Gaza, had left lives “hanging by a thread.”
“Children’s right to life and health is being denied,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Regional Director. “The protection of hospitals and delivery of lifesaving medical supplies is an obligation under the laws of war, and both are needed now.”
Meanwhile, medical facilities in the middle and southern areas of the Gaza Strip, already overwhelmed by the sheer number of injuries that need treatment, are now having to also cope with treating the needs of an influx of hundreds of thousands of people into even more densely packed spaces, UNICEF noted.
“These existing services must be supported and strengthened to deal with the increasing challenges they face”, the agency said. Children's lives are "hanging by a thread" said Mr. Khodr. Children in the north have "nowhere to go and are at extreme risk."
Some 135 attacks on health facilities have been documented in Gaza over the course of the past month, according to the World Health Organization.
WHO expressed alarm at an “increasing trend” of attacks on health care, also seen in other ongoing conflicts in Sudan and in Ukraine. The World Health Organization (WHO) has verified more than 1,300 attacks on health care in Ukraine since the start of conflict in February 2022.
10 Nov. 2023
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is urgently calling for the respect and protection of medical facilities, patients and healthcare workers in Gaza.
Overstretched, running out of supplies and increasingly unsafe, the healthcare system in Gaza has reached a point of no return risking the lives of thousands of wounded, sick and displaced people.
Over the past days, ICRC teams have witnessed deeply distressing images that have now gotten worse due to sharpened hostilities. This is severely affecting hospitals and ambulances, and taking a heavy toll on civilians, patients and medical staff.
Children’s hospitals have not been spared from the violence. Any military operation around hospitals must consider the presence of civilians, who are protected under international humanitarian law.
Attacks on medical facilities and personnel deal a heavy blow the healthcare system in Gaza, which is severely weakened after more than one month of heavy fighting.
The rules of war are clear. Hospitals are specially protected facilities under international humanitarian law. The ICRC urgently calls for the immediate protection of all civilians, including humanitarian workers and medical personnel. This protection is not only a legal obligation but a moral imperative to preserve human life in these terrible times.
5 Nov. 2023
Statement by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee:
"For almost a month, the world has been watching the unfolding situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in shock and horror at the spiralling numbers of lives lost and torn apart.
In Israel, some 1,200 people have been killed and thousands have been injured, according to the Israeli authorities. More than 200 people, including children, have been taken hostage. Rockets continue to traumatize families. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced. This is horrific.
However, the horrific killings of even more civilians in Gaza is an outrage, as is cutting off 2.2 million Palestinians from food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel.
In Gaza, according to the Ministry of Health, nearly 9,500 people have been killed, including 3,900 children and over 2,400 women. More than 23,000 injured people require immediate treatment within overstretched hospitals.
An entire population is besieged and under attack, denied access to the essentials for survival, bombed in their homes, shelters, hospitals and places of worship. This is unacceptable.
More than 100 attacks against health care have been reported. Scores of aid workers have been killed since October 7 including 88 UNRWA colleagues – the highest number of United Nations fatalities ever recorded in a single conflict.
We renew our plea for the parties to respect all their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. We renew our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all civilians held hostage.
Civilians and the infrastructure they rely on – including hospitals, shelters and schools – must be protected. More aid – food, water, medicine and of course fuel – must enter Gaza safely, swiftly and at the scale needed, and must reach people in need, especially women and children, wherever they are.
We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It’s been 30 days. Enough is enough. This must stop now".
3 Nov. 2023
Gaza: Children and families urgently need humanitarian assistance and protection. (UNICEF)
Children and families in Gaza are caught in a catastrophic situation. Thousands of children have reportedly been killed and thousands more injured. Children and families in Gaza have been cut off from water, food, fuel, medicine, and other essentials, including safe access to hospitals, following escalating hostilities. UNICEF is calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and for unrestricted humanitarian access to allow aid to reach children and families in need, save lives and prevent further suffering.
The cost to children and their communities of the escalating violence will be borne out for generations to come. Children are dying at an alarming rate and being denied their basic rights. Hospitals and schools must be protected from bombings and they must not be used for military purposes, in accordance with international humanitarian law.
Civilians must be protected – children particularly – and all efforts must be made to spare them in all circumstances. Even wars have rules.
UNICEF continues to press world leaders at every occasion for humanitarian access to the whole of Gaza, including children and families in the north of the strip which is increasingly cut off. To respond to the dire situation for children in the State of Palestine and Israel, UNICEF is calling for:
An immediate humanitarian ceasefire. The immediate, safe and unconditional release of all abducted children. All access crossings into Gaza to be opened for a safe, sustained and unimpeded access of humanitarian aid, including water, food, medical supplies, and fuel. Urgent medical cases in Gaza to be allowed to leave or to be able to receive critical health services.
Respect and protection for civilian infrastructure such as shelters and schools, and health, electric, water and sanitation facilities, to prevent loss of civilian and children’s lives, outbreaks of diseases, and to provide care to the sick and wounded.
UNICEF continues to focus on the critical needs of children for protection and humanitarian assistance – but access remains difficult and dangerous.
Limited shipments of life-saving supplies and drinking water from UNICEF began moving into Gaza on 21 October. To save children’s lives, much more is needed. Flows of humanitarian aid to meet the needs of all children and their families must be sustained. Clean water is running out in the Gaza Strip after its water plant and public water networks stopped working. Currently, the water production capacity is a mere 5 per cent of its usual daily output. People are now forced to use dirty water from wells, increasing the threat of waterborne diseases.
In addition, fuel is of paramount importance for the operation of essential facilities such as hospitals, desalination plants, and water pumping stations. Humanitarian supplies must be allowed to safely reach children and families in need wherever they are, in accordance with the rules of war".
26 Oct. 2023
I run the UN Agency for Palestine refugees. History will judge us all if there is no ceasefire in Gaza, by Philippe Lazzarini - Commissioner-General of UNRWA
"The UN charter is a commitment to our shared humanity. Civilians -- wherever they are -- must be protected equally,"
For more than two weeks now, unbearable images of human tragedy have come out of Gaza. Women, children and elderly people are being killed, hospitals and schools have been bombarded -- no one is spared. As I write this, UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, has already, tragically, lost nearly 100 of its staff, many killed while in their homes with their families.
Entire neighbourhoods are being flattened over the heads of civilians in one of the most overcrowded spots on Earth. The IDF has been warning Palestinians in Gaza to move to the southern part of the strip as it bombs the north; but the strikes also continue in the south. There is nowhere safe in Gaza.
Nearly many hundreds of thousands of people are sheltering in 150 schools and other UNRWA buildings, living in unsanitary conditions with limited clean water, little food and medicines. Mothers do not know how they can clean their children. Pregnant women pray that they will not face complications during delivery because hospitals have no capacity to receive them. Entire families now live in our buildings because they have nowhere else to go. But our facilities are not safe -- 40 UNRWA buildings, including schools and warehouses, have been damaged by the strikes. Many civilians sheltering inside them were, tragically, killed.
Gaza has been described over the last 15 years as a large open-air prison, with an air, sea and land blockade choking 2.2 million people within 365 sq km. Most young people have never left Gaza. Today, this prison is becoming the graveyard of a population trapped between war, siege and deprivation.
For the past few days, intense negotiations at the highest levels finally allowed very limited humanitarian supplies into the strip. While the breakthrough is welcome, these trucks are a trickle rather than the flow of aid that a humanitarian situation of this magnitude requires.
Before 7 October, Gaza received some 500 trucks of food and other supplies every day, including 45 trucks of fuel to power the strip's cars, water desalination plants and bakeries. Today, Gaza is being strangled, and the few convoys now entering will not assuage the civilian population's sentiment that they have been abandoned and sacrificed by the world.
On 7 October, Hamas committed unspeakable massacres of Israeli civilians that may amount to war crimes. The UN condemned this horrific act in the strongest terms. But let there be no shadow of a doubt -- this does not justify the ongoing crimes against the civilian population of Gaza, including its 1 million children.
The UN charter and our commitments are a commitment to our shared humanity. Civilians -- wherever they are -- must be protected equally. Gaza's civilians did not choose this war. Atrocities should not be followed by more atrocities. The response to war crimes is not more war crimes. The framework of international law is very clear on this and well established.
It will take genuine and courageous efforts to go back to the roots of this deadly deadlock and offer political options that are viable and can enable an environment of peace, stability and security. Until then, we must make sure that the rules of international humanitarian law are respected, and civilians spared and protected. An immediate humanitarian ceasefire must be enacted to allow safe, continuous and unrestricted access to fuel, medicine, water and food in the Gaza Strip.
Dag Hammarskjold, the second UN secretary-general, once said: "The UN was not created in order to bring us to heaven, but in order to save us from hell." The reality today in Gaza is that there is not much humanity left and hell is settling in.
The generations to come will know that we watched this human tragedy unfold over social media and news channels. We will not be able to say we did not know. History will ask why the world did not have the courage to act decisively and stop this hell on Earth.
* Philippe Lazzarini is Commissioner-General of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.
26 Oct. 2023
The horrific task Israelis face in finding and identifying Hamas terror attack victims, by Leila Molana-Allen and Zeba Warsi. (PBS Newshour)
Hamas attacked southern Israel with ferocious terror nearly three weeks ago, killing more than 1,200 people. Now, as Israelis mourn their dead, many are still trying to find their loved ones. The task is monumental, painstaking and often horrific. Leila Molana-Allen reports. And a warning, the images and accounts in this story are disturbing.
Amna Nawaz: It was nearly three weeks ago that Hamas attacked Southern Israel with ferocious terror, killing more than 1,400 people. Now, as Israelis mourn their dead, many are still trying to find their loved ones. The task is monumental, painstaking, and often horrific..
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: “Let me begin by expressing my utter condemnation of the abhorrent attacks by Hamas and others against Israeli towns and villages in the Gaza periphery, which have left over 1,200 Israelis dead and more than 3,000 injured (12/10),” he said.
Mr. Guterres noted that over 200 Israelis - civilians, including women, children and the elderly - have been reported captured by armed groups and are being held hostage inside the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad group have launched thousands of indiscriminate rockets that have reached central Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
“Nothing can justify these acts of terror and the killing, maiming and abduction of civilians,” he said. “I reiterate my call to immediately cease these attacks and release all hostages.”
In the face of these unprecedented attacks, Israel has commenced military operations in Gaza.
“While I recognize Israel’s legitimate security concerns, I also remind Israel that military operations must be conducted in strict accordance with international humanitarian law.”
The Secretary-General stressed that civilians must be respected and protected at all times, and that civilian infrastructure must never be a target.
9 Oct. 2023
UN officials have urged all concerned to urge "maximum restraint” following “horrific scenes of violence” that has left many hundreds of people dead and over 2,000 people wounded in Israeli towns and villages near the Gaza Strip, amid rocket and armed attacks by armed Palestinian militants early Saturday morning.
At dawn, a Hamas-led operation launched thousands of rockets towards Israel from the Gaza Strip, and armed Hamas fighters entered Southern Israel and attacked a number of Israeli towns and settlements murdering hundreds of women and children, the elderly and unarmed civilians. Families were burned alive in their homes, shot while trying to flee, massacred en masse in brutal acts defined as war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.
In response, Israeli authorities have declared that the country is in a state of war and have launched a military operation with strikes on the Gaza strip by air, land and sea.
Tor Wennesland, the UN's Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process:
“I vehemently condemn this morning’s multi-front assault against Israeli towns and cities near the Gaza Strip and barrage of rockets reaching across central Israel by Hamas militants.. These events have resulted in horrific scenes of violence and many Israeli fatalities and injuries, with many believed to be kidnapped inside the Strip,” he said. “These are heinous attacks targeting civilians.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk: “Civilians must never be the target of attack.. I am shocked and appalled at reports this morning that thousands of indiscriminate rockets have been fired by Palestinian armed groups towards Israel, and that many Israelis have been killed and hundreds injured.”
Noting that Israeli forces have responded with airstrikes into the densely populated Gaza Strip, he called on them to “take all precautions to avoid civilian casualties there”.
“I call for an immediate stop to the violence, and appeal to all sides and key countries in the region to de-escalate to avoid further bloodshed,” he said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is extremely concerned by the alarming intensification of armed violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories. The ICRC calls on all parties to respect their legal obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL).
Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC regional director for the Near and Middle East, said: “The images and reports we have seen this morning from Israel are utterly horrific. The violence directed against civilians is appalling and cannot be justified. If the situation continues to escalate, then civilians on both sides will suffer immensely.
“We are aware of reports relating to people being captured or detained. I want to make it clear that carrying out, or threatening to carry out, an act of hostage-taking is prohibited under international humanitarian law. Anyone detained, including combatants, must be treated humanely and with dignity.
“All parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. This is non-negotiable. Civilians and civilian objects must be respected and protected. Healthcare workers and health facilities must be protected to ensure people needing help can receive treatment".

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Urgent action needed to avert humanitarian catastrophe in Sudan
by OCHA, IASC, UNICEF, UNHCR, agencies
2 Nov. 2023
UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Clementine Nkweta-Salami on the protection of civilians in Darfur:
"I am deeply concerned by the military escalation in Darfur and its impact on civilians. “I am alarmed by reports that civilians are being caught in the ongoing fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Darfur, in a context of heightened intercommunal tensions, recalling the events in El Geneina in Darfur last June”, the Ms.Nkweta-Salami said.
Following the resumption of clashes between SAF and RSF since last Thursday in Nyala (South Darfur), Zalingei (Central Darfur), El Fasher (North Darfur), and El Geneina (West Darfur), civilians have been heavily impacted, with thousands of people displaced, many killed or wounded, and the destruction of civilian property.
“I reiterate my call on all parties to Sudan’s conflict to uphold their obligations under International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law to protect civilians in the course of hostilities. Darfurians have suffered enough” she emphasized. She further added that “civilians must be allowed to leave conflict-affected areas safely and unhindered.”
“I call on all parties to refrain from escalating and expanding the conflict. The toll this conflict is taking on civilians is unimaginable. Fighting needs to stop and parties to the conflict need to ensure the safe passage of humanitarian assistance to the millions of people in Sudan who desperately need it”.
Since fighting broke out in Sudan in April 2023, thousands have been killed, more than 5.7 million people have had to leave their homes and 25 million, more than half of the population needs humanitarian assistance.
12 Oct. 2023
Sudan´s brutal war continues to inflict immeasurable suffering: endangering lives, displacing millions from their homes, and causing deaths even in areas far from frontlines. (MSF)
Six months into the war in Sudan, people’s lives are still in danger from bombings, shelling and the shootings, both directly and indirectly. Sudanese health staff and volunteers are struggling to respond to people’s medical needs, and the country’s health system is on the edge of collapse, says Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
Our teams note a shameful absence of humanitarian organisations working in the country. In those areas where assistance is being provided, the response is insufficient for people’s immense needs. MSF is calling for an immediate increase in humanitarian efforts.
“Sudan’s crisis epitomises a catastrophic failure of humanity, marked by the warring parties’ failing to protect civilians or facilitate essential humanitarian access, and by the dire neglect and shortcomings of international organisations in delivering an adequate response,” says Dr Christos Christou, International President of MSF.
“Without an immediate, substantial escalation of the humanitarian response, what we are witnessing now will be the beginning of an even larger tragedy yet to unfold – meaning more people will continue to needlessly die.”
Across Sudan, the fragile health system is struggling; emergency rooms are congested, and many hospitals have closed completely. In the capital, Khartoum, MSF medical teams are witnessing one of the most intense urban conflicts currently taking place worldwide. Large numbers of injured people are arriving at the hospitals with life-threatening wounds, often leaving medical staff with no choice but to amputate.
“In both Khartoum and Darfur, many patients are critically injured to the extent that they need to have multiple rounds of surgery,” says Shazeer Majeed, an MSF surgeon. “On more than seven occasions in September alone, the hospitals where MSF operates received significant influxes of injured people following shelling, airstrikes, and explosions.”
Millions of displaced people are living in overwhelmed camps and makeshift sites like schools, after being displaced from their homes by the violence. People, including children, in these sites are dying of preventable diseases, such as malaria and measles, as there is a shameful lack of humanitarian response.
In Khartoum, as well as in many displacement camps, the water systems have been destroyed or are inadequate for people’s needs.
With no end to the war in sight, MSF is calling for a substantial increase in efforts to provide humanitarian aid; for the safeguarding of medical, humanitarian workers, and civilians; for the removal of administrative blockages on medical and humanitarian staff and supplies; and for people to be allowed unhindered access to aid.
“Sudan´s healthcare system is on the brink of collapse,” says Ossig. “Without urgent action, the most vulnerable people will continue to bear the brunt of the violence, resulting in more avoidable deaths.”
19 Sep. 2023
As the Sudan crisis deepens, INGOs warn of the cost of inaction, and call for immediate funding, access, and protection for civilians and aid workers.
The Inter-Agency Working Group for the East and Central Africa region is deeply concerned about the escalating humanitarian crisis in Sudan and the region, and the slow pace of global response. We call on the international community to respond urgently and comprehensively by providing much needed flexible funding and by urging all parties to the conflict to protect civilians, aid workers, and health facilities, and to remove barriers to the provision of life-saving humanitarian aid. The Sudanese people are facing unimaginable suffering, and the cost of not taking decisive action is simply too high.
The situation in Sudan is deteriorating in front of our eyes, with airstrikes and fighting increasing in the capital, Khartoum, and in Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, resulting in multiple civilian casualties; in Darfur this is compounded by horrific reports of escalating inter-ethnic violence. Thousands of cases of conflict-related sexual violence and other human rights violations have been reported from across the country.
The health system is on the verge of collapse, resulting in further increased mortality. All this, together with unprecedented food insecurity, malnutrition and displacement, has left half of the population (nearly 25 million people) in urgent need of assistance.
More than twenty million people, over 42% of the population, are now estimated to be facing crisis- or emergency-levels of food insecurity. With the 2023 planting season having been disrupted due to the conflict and the price of staple foods increasing by up to 200%, it is anticipated that from October the number of food-insecure will be the highest ever recorded for a post-harvest season in Sudan. No other country in the world currently faces this level of emergency food insecurity.
The conflict has driven enormous displacement: since the outbreak of the violence, over 1 million people have been displaced to neighbouring countries, adding to the pre-existing caseloads. Over 4 million people have been newly displaced within Sudan, adding to the 3 million individuals that were already displaced before the start of the current conflict.
In recent weeks, organisations working on the ground have witnessed a sharp surge in cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition, a major killer of children under the age of five. Children have also lost access to education and are at heightened risk of forced recruitment and other protection issues. Children are bearing the brunt of this crisis, with 3.4 million acutely malnourished children between six months and five years of age.
Millions of people – especially in Khartoum, Darfur and Kordofan – lack access to food, water, shelter, electricity, education and health care. Children need urgent assistance. Without increased support, 1.7 million babies risk missing out on life-saving vaccinations, and 700,000 children with severe acute malnutrition are at high risk of not surviving.
The cost of inaction in the face of ever-growing needs cannot be understated. Innocent lives are being lost daily because of hunger, lack of access to essential healthcare, and violence. Yet five months into the conflict, humanitarian organisations still face immense difficulties reaching populations with much needed supplies and services. Efforts to move essential food and medicine inside the country are being impeded by slow approvals and threatened by attacks and looting. Aid workers themselves remain the target of attacks, with 19 aid workers killed this year.
Despite all these challenges, NGOs have, since the start of the conflict, been working across all 18 states in Sudan to address the needs of around two million people, including by providing essential health and nutrition services, clean drinking water, and distributing food, as well as seeds for farmers.
Volunteer-led community neighbourhood groups (commonly known as Emergency Response Rooms) are also providing critical frontline assistance - including by ensuring hospitals and health centres remain operational and distributing essential food supplies. These community groups have been able to access areas international organisations are currently unable to get to. But more support is urgently needed.
Inaction on this humanitarian crisis not only means prolonged suffering for the Sudanese people but also has far-reaching consequences for regional stability and security. The one million people displaced into Chad, Egypt, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Central African Republic are putting additional pressure on these neighbouring countries, straining limited resources and triggering potential social and political tensions. Several of these countries face their own humanitarian crises, which were already severely under-funded.
We call on the international community, including governments and international organisations to urgently prioritise the crisis in Sudan, and fund a comprehensive response, allowing the recently announced scale-up to be properly implemented.
The revised Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan, which aims to provide life-saving assistance and protection services to 18.1 million people, remains grossly underfunded, with only US$685.9 million received out of the US$2.6 billion required (or 26.7%).
It is critical that we urgently release additional funding to humanitarian organisations working on the ground. That funding should be bold and flexible, to allow organisations to find innovative ways to reach populations in need, including by providing funds to frontline community-led groups and to cover the increased cost of operating in such a dangerous and volatile environment.
Funding from a diverse range of sources is needed in order to support the rehabilitation of health and education facilities, and their on-going functioning.
We also urge governments to actively engage in diplomatic efforts to not only bring an end to the conflict, but to also ensure that humanitarian aid can reach those who need it the most. This includes removing barriers to the movement of aid staff and supplies both within the country and across borders, and ensuring the safety and security of aid workers, and of health facilities.
We cannot afford to fail the people of Sudan as they face one shock after another. The time to act is now, and we must come together to ensure their protection, well-being, and dignity. Let us show our solidarity and commitment to humanity by standing alongside those most in need and working to build a brighter and more secure future for Sudan and the entire region.
* CARE International; Concern Worldwide; COOPI - Cooperazione Internazionale; Danish Refugee Council; GOAL; International Rescue Committee; Islamic Relief; Mercy Corps; Norwegian Refugee Council; Oxfam; Plan International; Save the Children; World Vision
15 August 2023
Statement by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee: End the Tragedy in Sudan
For four gruesome months, the people of Sudan have been engulfed in a war that is destroying their lives and their homeland, and violating their basic human rights.
People have witnessed their loved ones gunned down. Women and girls have been sexually assaulted. Families have seen their possessions looted and their homes burnt to the ground.
People are dying because they cannot access health care services and medicine. And now, because of the war, Sudan’s children are wasting away for lack of food and nutrition.
Each day the fighting continues, the Sudanese are being robbed of the peace they cherish, the lives they are entitled to, and the future they deserve.
Enough. After four months of terror, global leaders of humanitarian organizations working in Sudan call for an immediate cessation of hostilities. The people of Sudan need peace and access to humanitarian relief.
The international community must step up today with funding support, and engage at all levels, and act to put Sudan back on track and end the war.
In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk warned that the “disastrous, senseless war in Sudan, born out of a wanton drive for power, has resulted in thousands of deaths, the destruction of family homes, schools, hospitals and other essential services, massive displacement, as well as sexual violence, in acts which may amount to war crimes”.
William Spindler, spokesperson for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, said that over 4.3 million people have been forced to flee since conflict erupted on 15 April between the Sudanese Army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Latest UN data indicates that more than 900,000 refugees and asylum seekers have fled to neighbouring countries and 195,000 South Sudanese have been forced to leave Sudan. Mr. Spindler added that within Sudan, over 3.2 million people have been internally displaced, including more than 187,000 refugees already living in the country at the start of the crisis.
UN World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris warned that some 67 per cent of hospitals in the affected areas were out of service, denying access to care for “tens of thousands of people”. Noting WHO had verified 53 attacks on healthcare.
Dr. Harris sounded the alarm about the difficulty of controlling ongoing outbreaks of measles, malaria and dengue. Conditions are even more dangerous for children, she said, with about one-third of under five-year-olds now chronically malnourished. “Measles and malnourishment equals a death sentence for children under five,” she said.
The situation is also particularly dangerous for women and adolescent girls, stressed Laila Baker, Regional Director for The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with 2.6 million women and girls of reproductive age requiring humanitarian assistance.
At least 260,000 women are now pregnant and almost 100,000 are expected to give birth in the next three months. But without critical services, including hospitals and safe delivery, “their lives and those of their children and the babies that are going to be the future generation are severely at risk”, Ms. Baker said.
The threat of sexual violence is an additional danger for women and girls, warned the UN human rights office. Spokesperson Liz Throssell said OHCHR had received credible reports of numerous incidents of sexual violence including incidents of rape. Men in Rapid Support Forces (RSF) uniforms were implicated in at least 19 incidents as perpetrators, but “the actual number of cases is likely much higher,” she said.
Ms. Throssell reiterated that the UN human rights chief, Volker Turk, had repeatedly reminded senior officials in Sudan that there is “zero tolerance” for sexual violence. “Perpetrators must be held accountable and such violence must be clearly and unequivocally condemned,” she said.
Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that the war is “destroying people's lives and their homeland and violating their basic human rights”.
He called on all parties to the conflict to “end the fighting, protect civilians, and give humanitarian organizations unfettered access” to all areas of Sudan. The attacking of civilians, looting of humanitarian supplies, and targeting of aid workers and hospitals throughout the past four months “may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity”, he said.’-rights
4 Aug. 2023
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban’s remarks on the situation of children in Sudan:
“It is no exaggeration to say that the situation facing children in Sudan today is unprecedented. Before the war erupted on 15 April, Sudan was already grappling with a humanitarian crisis. Now, more than 110 days of brutal fighting have turned the crisis into a catastrophe, threatening the lives and futures of a generation of children and young people- who make up over 70 per cent of the population.
“The numbers are staggering. Almost 14 million children are in dire need of humanitarian support. 1 out of every 2 children in Sudan are now facing unimaginable challenges to their safety and well-being. Every single day.
“1.7 million children have been driven from their homes – parents are making the impossible choice to uproot their children and leave behind everything they have ever known - and are now on the move within Sudan or crossing its borders, vulnerable to hunger, disease, violence, and separation from their families. This number is in addition to the 1.9 million children who were displaced within Sudan prior to this latest crisis.
“Many hundreds of children have been killed in the conflict, and thousands injured.. I saw the consequences of the atrocities committed against children and women during the darkest days of the Darfur conflict, 18 years ago. I am deeply concerned that we are witnessing a repetition of these terrible days.
“The ramifications of this crisis also extend beyond Sudan's borders, directly impacting countries like Chad, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, and the regional and global implications are significant.
“The impact of this crisis is shown in the faces and stories of the children, parents and grandparents I met whilst in Sudan and Adre, a village on the Chad-Sudan border, which is now hosting hundreds of thousands of women and children who have fled West Darfur in search of safety.
“I spoke to a woman named Fatma in Adre. She had come across from Geneina into Chad with her three children and spoke of going through 11 checkpoints to get there, each requiring a bribe to get through with the constant fear of gender-based violence. Children coming dehydrated, malnourished, arriving in a weakened state, many on the verge of death.
“Each and every day, children are being killed, injured, abducted, and seeing the schools they depend on damaged, destroyed or looted. We have received reports of abductions, recruitment of children into armed groups, ethnically targeted violence, and gender-based violence against women and girls.
Three million children under five are malnourished with 700,000 at risk of severe acute malnutrition and mortality. 1.7 million children under the age of one are at risk of missing critical vaccinations, raising the risk of disease outbreaks. In White Nile State, we have a lethal combination of acute watery diarrhoea, measles and malnutrition. Unless this is contained the consequences could be severe.
While fighting continues, needs will only increase, with many vulnerable communities remaining out of reach of humanitarian support.
“We cannot accept the toll this war is taking on Sudan’s children, their families. We remember the outrage when the Darfur crisis was at its utmost horror. We cannot go back to that situation. So, our message to the parties to the conflict is clear. Stop the fighting and commit to a durable cessation of hostilities. All parties must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians – including preventing and ending grave violations against children. All parties should ensure the humanitarian community can safely reach all children and families in need".
* Continued Military Hostilities, Sexual Violence, Attacks against Citizens pushing Sudan into ‘Catastrophic’ Humanitarian Crisis, speakers warn UN Security Council (9 Aug.):
Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations and Advocacy, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that since the last briefing on 23 June, Sudan’s descent into a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe has only deepened. In these six weeks alone, more than 1.4 million additional people have fled their homes.
When she visited the country two weeks ago, she heard stories of sexual violence, harassment and physical assaults, of husbands disappearing never to be seen again, and of education interrupted, careers ruined and livelihoods lost.
“Everyone had a story of parents, children, colleagues and friends who had perished in this devastating conflict, with fears of many more to come as the warring factions push on, regardless of the consequences,” she said, warning: “From the lack of coverage of Sudan in the global media, one could be mistaken in believing that the situation was improving. This could not be further from the truth.”
Nearly four months into this conflict, more than 4 million people have now fled the violence — 3.2 million displaced internally and close to 900,000 who have crossed the border into Chad, Egypt, South Sudan and other countries, she continued. About 80 per cent of hospitals across the country are not functioning, and more than 20 million people, or over 40 per cent of the population, are facing acute food insecurity.
The banking system has been heavily disrupted, as have public and civil institutions, including many Government functions. Electricity blackouts are extensive and schools are closed.
“It is the story of a country and its people being driven to the point of collapse,” she reported, underscoring that the situation is particularly alarming where the conflict is at its most intense — notably in Darfur, Khartoum and Kordofan.
Nationwide, since this conflict started, more than 2.9 million people have received some form of humanitarian assistance, including cash or in-kind food assistance, health services, or access to basic water services. But this, unfortunately, represents only a fraction of the 18 million people in need, she added.
Until a political resolution is reached, all parties must respect international humanitarian law and minimize human suffering, she emphasized.
24 July 2023
Sudan: one hundred days of war. (Norwegian Refugee Council)
A hundred days of war in Sudan have exacted a devastating toll on civilian lives and infrastructure, but the worst is yet to come. The country is on the brink of collapse, grappling with a series of crises that together are unprecedented.
Sudan was already facing an overwhelming and vastly neglected humanitarian crisis before the war broke out. The first 100 days fighting have brought it to catastrophic levels. Despite various ceasefires the conflict has persisted, bringing clashes and killings across the country. Thousands of lives have been lost, and countless homes and displacement camps have been reduced to ashes. At least 3.1 million people have fled within the country or across its borders. On top of the violence, Sudan also face the threat of rainy season floods and a looming hunger crisis.
Humanitarian organisations have worked tirelessly to provide assistance and protection. From the earliest days of the war, local responders have stepped in, bringing lifesaving aid to those displaced and those trapped. But access to people in need has been severely impeded. Today, the response requires a complete reset and restructuring to make it more relevant, effective and coherent with the needs on the ground.
A blend of first-hand observations from the ground, survivors’ testimonies and a literature review, this report reflects on the first 100 days of the war in Sudan. It is an urgent call for change and unwavering dedication to rebuilding the country's shattered hope. The international community has an essential role to play, especially demanding the protection of civilians and principled humanitarian action to reach those in need with the most timely and appropriate interventions possible.
15 July 2023
Misery deepens for Sudanese civilians, as conflict hits three-month mark, by Martin Griffiths - UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
For three months now, the people of Sudan have endured unspeakable suffering amid violence that is tearing their country apart. As the conflict enters its fourth month, the battle lines are hardening, making it ever more difficult to reach the millions of people who need urgent humanitarian assistance.
Sudan is now one of the world’s most difficult places for humanitarian workers to operate. Hand-in-hand with local organizations, we are doing all we can to deliver life-saving supplies. But we cannot work under the barrel of a gun. We cannot replenish stores of food, water and medicine if brazen looting of these stocks continues. We cannot deliver if our staff are prevented from reaching people in need.
Ultimately, Sudan’s suffering will end only when the fighting ends. In the meantime, we need predictable commitments from the parties to the conflict that allow us to safely deliver humanitarian assistance to people in need, wherever they are. Both sides must abide by the Declaration of Commitments they signed in Jeddah to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law.
Since the conflict began, more than 3 million people in Sudan – half of them children – have fled the violence, both inside and outside the country. Half of the children remaining in Sudan, numbering some 13.6 million, urgently need humanitarian assistance.
Each day the fighting continues, the misery deepens for Sudanese civilians. The recent discovery of a mass grave outside West Darfur’s capital, El Geneina, is only the latest evidence pointing to a resurgence in ethnic killings in the region. The international community cannot ignore this harsh echo of history in Darfur.
We must all redouble our efforts to ensure that the conflict in Sudan does not spiral into a brutal and interminable civil war with grave consequences for the region. The people of Sudan cannot afford to wait.
27 June 2023
Sudan: Displacement soars amid shrinking humanitarian access
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is alarmed over growing humanitarian needs among those affected by the crisis in Sudan, as displacement numbers continue to surge while delivery of assistance remains heavily constricted by insecurity, lack of access and funding shortfalls.
Millions of people have been displaced by the conflict since 15 April, with hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety in neighbouring countries – with Egypt receiving the highest number, followed by Chad, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic -– and at least two million people displaced inside the country.
In Sudan, ongoing fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and in the Darfur and Kordofan regions, has left many stranded and cut off from basic humanitarian assistance. UNHCR has received worrying reports of displaced civilians including refugees experiencing life-threatening obstacles while attempting to seek safety within the country and across borders. Due to the intensity of the conflict, vulnerable people on the move have been left with little choice than to flee in extremely dangerous and difficult conditions, risking physical abuse, theft and banditry, and in some cases, denied movement out of conflict areas and forced back into harm’s way.
We are particularly concerned about the worsening situation in West Darfur, where according to reports from colleagues on the ground, the conflict has reached alarming levels, making it virtually impossible to deliver life-saving aid to the affected populations. Increasing numbers of injured civilians are among the newly arrived refugees in Chad.
June 2023
Sudan conflict leaves 13.6 million children in desperate need of humanitarian aid. (UNICEF)
As the conflict in Sudan passes the six-week mark, over 13.6 million children are in urgent need of lifesaving humanitarian support, the highest number ever recorded in the country. The impact of ongoing violence continues to threaten the lives and futures of families and children, leaving basic services cut off and many health facilities closed, damaged, or destroyed.
The need for humanitarian assistance has never been more critical for children in Sudan, as the most vulnerable populations struggle to survive and be protected. Access to basic necessities is becoming increasingly difficult to secure. Prior to the conflict, nearly nine million children were already in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
"As the conflict in Sudan rages on, the toll on children continues to grow more devastating by the day,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“These children are not just numbers, they are individuals with families, dreams and aspirations. They are the future of Sudan, and we cannot stand by while their lives are torn apart by violence. The children of Sudan deserve a chance to survive and thrive. No efforts should be spared by all actors to protect the children and their rights".
A situation that was already dire for children before the conflict is now at catastrophic levels, with access to food, safe water, electricity, and telecommunications unreliable, inaccessible and unaffordable. People have fled their homes and are internally displaced in Sudan, including many hundreds of thousands who have crossed into neighbouring countries so far, half of whom are believed to be children.
Without an immediate and extensive humanitarian response, the consequences of displacement, lack of basic social services, and protection will have devastating - and long-term - effects on children.
UNICEF is appealing for funding to meet the urgent needs of children, including to treat over 620,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, half of whom may die if not helped in time.
* Protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law, statement by Alice Wairimu Nderitu, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, on the conflict in Sudan:
May 2023
Hunger set to hit record high in Sudan as fighting continues (WFP)
Clashes between Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continue for 27 consecutive days.
Prices of food, fuel and other basic goods are skyrocketing, making critical goods unaffordable for many people.
In Khartoum the capital, 61 per cent of health facilities are closed and only 16 per cent are operating as normal, leaving millions of people without access to health care.
The UN World Food Programme has warned that an additional 2 - 2.5 million people in Sudan are expected to slip into hunger in the coming months as a result of the ongoing violence in the country. This would take acute food insecurity in Sudan to record levels, with more than 19 million people affected, two fifths of the population.
The cost of food is soaring all across the country, and the price of basic food items is expected to increase by at least 25 percent in the coming months. If farmers are prevented from accessing their fields and planting key staples between May and July, it will drive food prices even higher.
WFP calls on all parties to the conflict to take immediate steps to stop the fighting and facilitate the humanitarian access so that WFP can scale up operations in a country with some of the highest rates of food insecurity in the world.
May. 2023
Plight of civilians amid hostilities. (OHCHR)
Two weeks after the fighting erupted between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) – imposing fear, deprivation, trauma and suffering on the civilian population – the human rights situation in Sudan continues to dramatically deteriorate.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes to find places of greater safety, at any cost, and have been facing abuses en route.
Thousands remain trapped in residential areas where fighting has been taking place, facing air strikes, shelling and the use of heavy weapons, trying to use any period of calm to reach places of relative safety.
People also continue to be forced from their homes by the RSF and suffer looting, extortion, acute shortages of food, water, electricity, fuel, limited access to healthcare, limited communication and limited cash due to the closure of banks.
Clashes continue to be reported in densely populated areas of Khartoum, Bahri, Omdurman and towns in Darfur and North Kordofan. We are concerned at the serious risk of violence escalating in West Darfur as the hostilities between the RSF and SAF have triggered intercommunal violence. In El Geneina, West Darfur, deadly ethnic clashes have been reported, with hundreds of people killed.
It is deeply alarming that inmates have been released from, or escaped from, a number of prisons. We are very worried about the prospect of further violence, amid a generalized climate of impunity.
We call on the parties to immediately end hostilities, and in particular to halt hostilities in residential areas and to cease targeting the civilian population and infrastructure. The protection of civilians must be paramount. International humanitarian law demands it.
Following decades of repression, armed conflict and deprivation, the people of Sudan must not be subjected to further violations of their fundamental human rights. We call on all those with influence to use every possible means to de-escalate the situation and to stand in solidarity with the Sudanese people in their demands for a peaceful and democratic future.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk underscores the deep yearning and determination for freedom of the Sudanese people – who overthrew a military dictatorship of 30 years and resisted the subsequent military takeover with great courage. It is unfathomable that once again force is being used against them. The guns must be silenced and reason must prevail.
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the violence wracking Sudan had “taken a terrible toll on health”.
“On top of the number of deaths and injuries caused by the conflict itself, WHO expects there will be many more deaths due to disease outbreaks, lack of access to food and water, and disruptions to essential health services, including immunization”, he said.
WHO estimates that one in four of the lives lost so far could have been saved with access to basic emergency medical treatment for the wounded.
“But paramedics, nurses and doctors are unable to access injured civilians, and civilians are unable to access services. In the capital Khartoum, 61 per cent of health facilities are closed, and only 16 per cent are operating as normal.”
As the fighting continues, the UN is preparing for a mass influx of refugees into countries across the region bordering Sudan, including the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. UNHCR is calling on all countries neighbouring Sudan to keep their borders open to those fleeing the violence, in fear of their lives, and called for funding support to deal with the new displacements.
In a joint statement, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and the Special Representative on Violence against Children, Najat Maalla M’jid, said they were alarmed at the reported numbers of civilian deaths, including children.
“The lives, protection and well-being of children must take precedence over combat operations, and we call on all parties to halt hostilities and to ensure full protection of all children.
“Parties should further refrain from attacking civilian infrastructures in accordance with international humanitarian law, especially those impacting children – this includes schools and medical facilities as well as water and sanitation systems”.
(Since fighting began in Sudan, cease-fires have been repeatedly negotiated only to be repeatedly broken).
17 Apr 2023
Fighting in Sudan must stop - Statement by UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths. (OCHA)
The latest outbreak of fighting in Sudan is a devastating setback for the people of the country. Even before this violence, humanitarian needs were already at an all-time high in Sudan, with one third of the population – a staggering 16 million people – in need of humanitarian aid.
I am deeply concerned by the mounting deaths and injuries, which will only increase further as fighting rages on in urban areas.
Reports that hospitals and water and electrical infrastructure have come under attack are extremely alarming.
The clashes are preventing people – especially in cities – from accessing food, water, education, fuel and other critical services for their families. Health services, already precarious, could be further pushed to the brink.
This renewed fighting only aggravates what was already a fragile situation, forcing UN agencies and our humanitarian partners to temporarily shutter many of our more than 250 programmes across Sudan.
The impacts of this suspension will be felt immediately, especially in the areas of food security and nutritional support, in a country where some 4 million children and pregnant and lactating women are severely malnourished.
Humanitarian aid must safely reach those who need it. People must be able to safely access basic services, commodities and humanitarian assistance. Hospitals and infrastructure essential for the supply of water and electricity must be protected.
16 Apr. 2023
Sudan: Fighting in densely populated areas endangers civilian lives; Humanitarian organizations must be able to reach those in need. (ICRC)
As clashes continue in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities, heavy gunfire and blasts are happening in the proximity of densely populated residential areas and civilian infrastructure with civilian casualties being reported in various locations.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) calls on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. This includes facilitating the work of humanitarian organizations, taking all feasible precautions to avoid civilian injuries and loss of life, ensuring quick access and safety for ambulances and medical personnel, and treating all detainees humanely.
"We are extremely worried that the fighting is affecting densely populated areas. People are seeking cover in their houses," said Alfonso Verdu Perez, the head of the ICRC delegation in Sudan. "We call on all parties to facilitate the work of humanitarian organizations so that we can help those in need."
People living in large cities like Khartoum are heavily dependent on public infrastructure. Any damage to these facilities can disrupt essential services like healthcare, water and power. The ICRC, together with the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS), is closely monitoring the humanitarian situation in Khartoum and other parts of the country and is ready to respond to urgent humanitarian needs once the situation allows.
The Islamic Relief aid agency said it was extremely concerned at the new escalation of violence in Sudan, which risks exacerbating the country’s humanitarian crisis. More than 15 million across Sudan people are already suffering from food shortages and rampant inflation.
Sudan has one of the world’s highest rates of child malnutrition, with more than 3 million children malnourished and the number is increasing. Many families cannot afford regular food as the depreciation of the Sudanese currency, as well as the impact of the war in Ukraine and Sudan’s political crisis, has caused the price of food to skyrocket. Staple food such as sorghum and millet have risen by 700 percent in the last few years and are 60 percent higher than a year ago.
Save the Children’s Country Director in Sudan, Arshad Malik, said:
“While fighting is ongoing, there are international legal obligations to take all necessary precautions to protect civilians and civilian objects, including schools and hospitals, which are protected under International Humanitarian Law. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas should also be avoided as it risks severe harm to civilians, in particular children. We call on all parties to the violence to halt the fighting immediately, before more lives are lost.”
Much of the fighting is currently reportedly taking place in the capital area, where roughly 12 million of the country's 46 million people live.
The violence has left many civilians trapped indoors and desperately seeking essential supplies. Many are running out of food and water. It has become dangerous to venture out of the homes to restock on supplies. News agencies reported the streets of Khartoum are littered with dead bodies.
"Thousands upon thousands of civilians are trapped in their homes, shielding from the fighting, with no electricity, unable to venture out and worried about running out of food, drinking water and medicine," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk.

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