Remarks by Ms. Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations and Advocacy of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, at the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Sudan and South Sudan

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18 June 2024


As delivered


Mr. President [Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea, Mr. HWANG Joon-Kook],

In less than four months, this is the sixth time we have briefed this Council on the humanitarian emergency in Sudan. The 12th time since the conflict broke out in April 2023.

Each time, we have warned about the relentless deterioration of conditions for people in most parts of the country.

Today, I regret to inform you that Sudan continues to spiral into chaos.

I will touch on four points: (1) the horrific toll of the conflict on civilians in El Fasher and other conflict hotspots across the country; (2) the worsening humanitarian crisis; (3) the current status of humanitarian access and funding for the aid operation; and lastly the desperate need to stop the fighting.

Mr. President, Distinguished members of the Council,

Fourteen months of conflict have created a nightmare for civilians in Sudan – with the people of El Fasher at the epicentre today, as just mentioned by ASG [Martha] Pobee.

Amid unrelenting violence and suffering, the lives of 800,000 people – of women, children, men, the elderly and people with disabilities – these lives hang in the balance.

Bombing and shelling continue in densely populated areas, causing widespread and long-term harm to civilians and severely disrupting the essential services they very much depend on. Many Member States noted the devastating effects of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas during this Council’s annual debate on the protection of civilians just four weeks ago.

According to Médecins Sans Frontières, more than 1,300 people have been injured between 25 May and 6 June in El Fasher.

Those who can flee the city have done so. At least 130,000 people have been displaced since 1st April, mainly south to other parts of Darfur and west into Chad – where resources and basic services are already extremely stretched and, in some contexts, non-existent.

ASG Pobee also noted the deplorable assault on the Southern Hospital on 8th June, which forced patients and staff to flee for their lives. The hospital was looted and no longer functioning. Its closure will profoundly impact people’s access to life-saving medical care. Our colleagues from the World Health Organization note that the Southern Hospital was the only facility with surgical capacity in El Fasher. The other health facilities in the city that are still functional are now stretched beyond capacity.

This is a recent example of the destruction of health care in Sudan, where over 80 per cent of hospitals and clinics are now not functioning in some of the worst affected areas.

Mr. President, Distinguished members of the Council,

What we are witnessing in El Fasher is the result of unrestrained and indiscriminate violence with little regard for the tremendous misery and suffering caused.

Without decisive action now, we risk seeing a repeat of the well-documented atrocities perpetrated in Ag Geneina between late April and early November last year.

Over the past six weeks, we have repeatedly called for civilians to be protected and for this ferocious violence to stop. This Council did the same last week Thursday in Security Council Resolution 2736.

These calls must not be ignored.

We urge this Council to do everything possible – and to use all means at its disposal – to push for the implementation of the resolution and to stop this lethal tragedy from unfolding further.

Mr. President,

Sadly, the violence in El Fasher is just the tip of the iceberg.

Four hundred and thirty days [430] days into this conflict, the level of human suffering in Sudan is intolerable.

You have seen the statements by the UN Secretary-General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the attack by the Rapid Support Forces in Wad Al-Noura village, in Aj Jazirah State, on 5th June. This horrific attack killed more than 100 people – among them dozens of children – as highlighted by ASG Pobee.

Indiscriminate bombing continues to blight the daily lives of millions of people in Darfur, Kordofan, Khartoum and Aj Jazirah states, killing, injuring, maiming civilians, and damaging much of the remaining infrastructure.

Conflict-related sexual violence remains rampant. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has received reports of women and girls being raped and subjected to other forms of gender-based violence as they leave their homes in search of a basic commodity: food. According to reports from local women-led organizations, suicide rates among survivors are rising and access to gender-based violence services is shrinking.

According to the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict, grave violations against children in Sudan have increased by a staggering 480 per cent – from around 300 violations in 2022 to over 1,700 in 2023.

Humanitarian workers are not being spared from the violence. Six aid workers, all Sudanese nationals, have been killed over the last six weeks. This brings the total number of aid workers killed to 24 since the war started.

These horrific trends of violence must stop.

International humanitarian law demands that parties take all feasible precautions to protect civilians during hostilities. It also strictly prohibits sexual violence and any inhuman treatment.

This is not optional.

And ultimately, those who violate the rules of war must be held to account.

Mr. President,

In addition to the direct toll on civilians, the conflict is also deepening humanitarian needs across the country.

Famine is imminent.

Almost 5 million people face emergency levels of food insecurity (IPC level 4 in the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification). Nine in ten of these people are in conflict-affected areas in Darfur, Kordofan, Aj Jazirah and Khartoum states.

Over 2 million people in 41 hunger hotspots are at high risk of slipping into catastrophic hunger in the coming weeks.

Women report having to watch their children starve because they cannot feed them.

Basic services are collapsing in conflict-affected areas – including healthcare, and water and sanitation systems.

Pregnant women are at heightened risk of acute malnutrition. According to UN Women, 7,000 new mothers could die in the next few months if they don’t get access to food and healthcare.

Across Sudan, women are dying because of complications during pregnancy or childbirth.

If farmers do not immediately receive the certified seeds they need for the planting season, the food security situation will worsen further.

As we have warned this Council before, the countdown is real. We have just a few weeks to deliver lifesaving supplies before the rainy season starts and [road] conditions significantly worsen. Those of us who have lived in Darfur understand that the wadis become rivers and access is simply impossible.

Mr. President,

Despite some recent improvements, humanitarian operations in Sudan continue to face serious challenges.

In conflict hotspots, insecurity, lootings, and sustained access obstructions paralyzed aid operations during the first four months of the year.

We do acknowledge and appreciate measures by the Sudanese authorities over the past six weeks to facilitate humanitarian operations.

Allow me to share some statistics.

In May, 78 per cent – 120 out of 153 – visa applications were approved for short-term stays.

Since 1st of April, 98 per cent – 472 out of 481 – travel permits submitted by UN agencies have been approved.

And since May 1, the humanitarian community has moved 147 trucks cross-border and crossline, carrying 4,900 metric tons of assistance for almost 670,000 people.

We welcome these movements.

If we are to avert massive loss of life, the facilitation we have seen over the past month and a half needs to be sustained and expanded.

We need to significantly scale up movements in the weeks ahead. In the second half of June and July, we plan to move more than 600 trucks cross-border or crossline, carrying 18,800 metric tons of supplies to support more than 1 million people.

The humanitarian community is also expanding its operational footprint across the country.

We need continued rapid clearances through Tine crossing and the continued permission to move supplies directly to their final destinations.

Further progress is also needed on the issuance of long-term visas and in opening Aweil and Panakuach border crossings for humanitarian movements from South Sudan.

Given the severity of the humanitarian situation and the urgency of humanitarian needs, we must be able to use the safest, most direct routes. This is especially important as we approach the rainy season, as I highlighted earlier, when some routes – including through Tine – will become far less accessible or even impassable.

In this vein, we welcome the call for the reopening of the Adre border crossing in Security Council Resolution 2736.

Distinguished Council members, Mr. President,

Six months into the year, the humanitarian appeal is woefully underfunded.

We have received $441 million in contributions – unfortunately only 16 per cent of our total $2.7 billion requirement.

In this context, I must recognize the announcement by the United States last week to provide an additional $315 million for the humanitarian response in Sudan and neighbouring countries. Yesterday, the United Arab Emirates announced the allocation of $70 million of its $100 million pledge in Paris to [UN] humanitarian agencies.

We are in a race against time to avert massive loss of life in this unprecedented protection and food security crisis in Sudan.

Every day that we wait for funding to come, more lives are at risk.

Mr. President,

As you have heard in my statement today – and in our 11 other statements over the past 14 months – we have three asks.

To protect civilians and the infrastructure they need for survival; to ensure unimpeded, sustained and expanded humanitarian access to people in need; and increased funding for the aid operation.

But let me be clear. The ultimate ask is for this horrific conflict to stop.

This was the main demand from the women, the men and the children I met in Port Sudan six weeks ago. They want their lives back.

I once again urge the Security Council, and all Member States, to do everything in their power to bring this war, and its untold suffering, to an end.

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