New York, NY , April 27, 2023 — David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC, said,
“While swift evacuations from Sudan have helped thousands, what about the nearly 47 million Sudanese who remain in the country? A rapid surge of humanitarian aid is the key to helping millions in Sudan. The IRC is staying and delivering critical aid in the country.
“European leaders are focused on evacuating their citizens, but there is no time to waste in shifting focus on supporting and protecting those who remain.
“The IRC is still operational in two states in Sudan – Blue Nile and Gedaref. In Gedaref we already support thousands of Tigrayan refugees and are supporting people arriving in recent days from various parts of Sudan with health, sanitation and protection services. Protection for humanitarians is absolutely essential. Aid workers need safe access to populations in need so that organisations like the IRC can continue providing lifesaving support.
“In order to prevent Sudan from sliding from a fragile state into a failed state, it is critical to ensure public services remain up and running in the country. With the instability of the government, this may require leaning more on local civil society and NGOs that have the greatest access to communities in need and most importantly in this perilous moment, have the trust of those communities.
“Protection of civilians is critical. We see time and time again the way civilians are cut off from access to aid - including by directly attacking aid workers - and impunity for mass atrocities becomes the norm. We cannot let that happen yet again in Sudan. The UN needs to call out parties to the conflict that are denying access to aid and we need to shine a light on war crimes, international humanitarian law violations, and other such abuses.
“The situation in Sudan has regional ramifications with nearly 20,000 Sudanese displaced into neighbouring Chad. Chad has been generously welcoming in Sudanese refugees, but Chad itself is a low-income, crisis-affected country where IRC has been working since 2004. Chad will struggle to maintain this generosity unless they receive immediate and significant economic support.
“We call on donors, especially across Europe, to step up funding to the frontlines – to critical NGOs – immediately to help those who remain in Sudan and those who have fled to Chad. The UN’s Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan to ensure needs are met in-country remains just 14% funded. A traditional humanitarian response will not fix the large scale damage to infrastructure. Instead, the response requires an adaptive approach with different sources of funds, not purely emergency funds.”
In Sudan, the IRC supports people impacted by conflict and crisis, including women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, refugees, mixed populations, and host communities. We provide an integrated health, nutrition and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) program that maintains basic service provision while actively working to increase local capacity to sustain the service provision. The IRC also provides multipurpose cash support as well as child protection services and comprehensive women and girls’ protection and empowerment services including gender-based violence (GBV) survivors.
The IRC restarted operations in Sudan in November 2019 after operating from 1982 till 2009, successfully obtaining re-registration in Khartoum with the transitional government, and launching initial programs to support displaced populations in urban settings around Khartoum. Due to the current violence within the country IRC has suspended operational presence in Khartoum and South Kordofan States. Our operations in Tunaydbah (Gedaref) and Blue Nile continue unhindered.
In Chad, the IRC has delivered vital humanitarian programming since 2004 in response to the refugee crisis from neighbouring Darfur. Today the IRC works across the country to deliver integrated interventions in health, including reproductive health, nutrition and water and sanitation; women’s protection and empowerment, with a focus on fighting against gender-based violence; and economic recovery, with an emphasis on cash transfer and income-generating activities.