Sunday, March 3, 2024

Sudan: Over 100,000 have now fled, says UNHCR

More than 100,000 people have now fled Sudan to neighbouring countries in search of safety, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.

Those fleeing the fighting include Sudanese refugees as well as people who were themselves refugees in Sudan. UNHCR estimates that the number of refugees and returnees may rise to over 800,000.

UNHCR spokesperson, Olga Sarrado, told journalists in Geneva that many of the seven neighbouring countries are already hosting large refugee, and internally displaced populations.

“The majority remain severely underfunded. Asylum countries will need additional support to provide protection and assistance. Among the urgent needs are water, food, shelter, healthcare, relief items, gender-based violence response and prevention, and child protection services.”

With civilians continuing to be caught in the crossfire between the warring militaries – with much of the fighting taking place in urban areas – the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that “many will die” due to lack of essential services, as well as disease outbreaks, said UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, at the regular briefing in New York on Tuesday.

“Medical stockpiles are running critically low in areas ravaged by the fighting – including in the capital Khartoum, and West and Central Darfur. And the prices of basic commodities, from fuel to food staples and bottled water, has risen by 40 to 60 per cent or more in some areas.”

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that more than 334,000 people have been displaced inside Sudan, since the conflict between the national armed forces of Sudan’s ruling general, and that of his deputy’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia, erupted more than two weeks ago.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided critical water, sanitation and hygiene support to six hospitals in Khartoum, as well as water trucking to a hospital in North Darfur, continued Haq. The agency has also directed health and nutrition kits to health centres in the state capital, El Fasher.

The Deputy Spokesperson said that in Chad and Sudan, the UN planned to bring in roughly 70,000 core relief items, from global stockpiles.

“And in Egypt, UNHCR and other UN agencies are conducting a mission to assess the needs of people coming from Sudan. The UN and Egyptian Red Crescent are delivering water, food, wheelchairs, and hygiene and sanitary kits to new arrivals”, he added.

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