Thursday, 30 May 2024 17:50

Sudan: ‘Noose of war’ tightens on civilians in El Fasher, UN official warns

© UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani
Children walking to their shelter at an IDP camp near El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, Sudan (file).

The top UN aid official in Sudan warned on Thursday that “the noose of war is tightening its stranglehold” on civilians in El Fasher, expressing her profound distress at the dire humanitarian situation there.

Fighting between the Sudanese army and rival military the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), who have been battling for more than year, recently intensified in the North Darfur city.

Civilians are under attack from all sides and the news of reported casualties and human rights abuses are appalling, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan Clementine Nkweta-Salami said in a statement.

‘Deeply worrying reports’

“Families, including children and elderly people, are being prevented from leaving the city as they search for safety,” she said.

“We are receiving deeply worrying reports that medical facilities, displacement camps and critical civilian infrastructure have been targeted by parties to the conflict.”

Ms. Nkweta-Salami added that many parts of El Fasher have been left without electricity or water and a growing proportion of the population has limited access to food, healthcare and other basic necessities and essential services.

Appeal to the parties

“After more than a year of brutal conflict, families have exhausted their scarce resources and their resilience is being eroded with each day of violence,” she said.

The top UN aid official in the country stressed that all parties must avoid using explosive weapons in populated areas and take all feasible precautions to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.

“Wars have rules that must be respected by all, no matter what,” she said.

Conflict displaces millions

Meanwhile, the war has displaced more than seven million people inside Sudan, more than half of them children, the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, said on Wednesday, citing data from the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM).

This is in addition to the estimated two million who have fled to neighbouring countries since the conflict erupted in April 2023.

The UN and partners continue to step up efforts to respond to rising hunger and food insecurity in Sudan. Some 18 million people across the country are going hungry and five million are on the brink of famine.

Food on the move

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported that 1,200 metric tonnes of food supplies for some 116,000 people are being transported across the Darfur region and nearing final destinations in Central Darfur and 12 locations across South Darfur, including displacement camps in Nyala.

The supplies are from a WFP convoy that crossed into Sudan from Chad last week.

Food distributions are also ongoing for 135,000 people in South Kordofan state as WFP reiterated that aid must safely reach vulnerable communities.