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Aid workers despair – the outside world turns a blind eye to the war in Sudan

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6.8 million people live as internally displaced people in Sudan, among them this 32-year-old woman who has sought refuge in a school in White Nile state. The brother was killed when he helped her escape from the capital, Khartoum. Photo: Ahmed Omer / Norwegian Refugee Council / NTB Handout. The photo is included in NTB’s offer to subscribers of news photos. The image must only be used in connection with the specified matter.

Of NTB | 14.04.2024 18:03:42

Crime and justice: – Today is a day of shame, says the Norwegian Refugee Council’s country director Will Carter.

– One year since the start of the war, Sudan’s civilian population is exposed to starvation, widespread sexual violence, executions and ethnically based murders on a large scale. While several million people have been forced to flee, the world continues to look the other way, he says.

No one knows for sure how many lives the war has cost. The eyes of the world are on other wars, and so are the TV cameras.

Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) estimates that over 15,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands injured in fighting in Sudan over the past year. There are probably far more.

Before the war, over 6 million people lived in the capital.

– Khartoum is becoming a ghost town, only 20-30 per cent of the population remains, says communications adviser Truls Brekke in the Red Cross.

70-80 per cent of the health centers in Sudan are out of order, the dead are not buried, and the risk of disease spreading is high when the rainy season soon sets in.

NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland visited refugees in the border area between Chad and Sudan in February.

– I heard terrible testimonies of premeditated violence and atrocities. Families fleeing Darfur have witnessed executions, rapes, indiscriminate shelling, camp burnings and massacres – just because of their ethnicity, he told.

– They are forced to live in desperate and undignified conditions in makeshift tents, without basic assistance. How is it possible that these people have been so forgotten, wondered Egeland.

– The war in Sudan could trigger the world’s worst famine, ascertained the head of the UN Food Program (WFP), Cindy McCain, recently.

– People are dying of hunger right before our eyes. While the world’s eyes are on Gaza and Ukraine, we are facing the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world, says secretary general Dagfinn Høybråten in the Church’s Emergency Relief.

Development Minister Anne Beathe Tvinnereim (Sp) is also deeply concerned and warned earlier this year against turning a blind eye to the tragedy unfolding in Sudan.

– The crisis has ended up completely in the shadow of other crises and must get the attention it needs and deserves, she said.

– After one year, we are now witnessing the world’s worst refugee crisis, which on our watch risks becoming the world’s biggest hunger crisis. At the same time, funding for the humanitarian response plan is minimal, says Carter.

– The looming famine should have forced the warring parties to allow emergency aid to flow in, but the reality on the ground is that emergency aid is still being prevented and that the world’s major powers remain indifferent, he says.

World leaders must intervene, both by putting diplomatic pressure on the warring parties, and by providing the necessary funding for emergency aid so that millions of lives can be saved, reads his plea.

– No child should have to go through what the children in Sudan have experienced in the past year, he says.

– Since the war started in April 2023, over 10 million children have been repeatedly exposed to deadly violence. This staggering figure is the highest number of children who have been exposed anywhere in the world, says ACLED’s leader Clionadh Raleigh.

– In Sudan, both rape and hunger are used as weapons in war. Women must choose between hunger and safety. Getting to the market, fields, food delivery or shops is associated with great risk, says Høybråten.

Dagalo’s RSF militia originates in The Janjaweed militia which the then regime used to put down a rebellion in Darfur in the 2000s.

Burhan led the military coup in 2019 and then gave Dagalo a leading post in the military junta. When a civilian government was scheduled to take power in the country two years later, the two led another military coup.

After strong international pressure, a new agreement on civilian rule was concluded, and the RSF was planned to be incorporated into the army. Then the two generals were unclear about who should be in command.

According to experts, Dagalo receives arms support from the United Arab Emirates. This as thanks for that RSF soldiers assisted the Emirates in the war in Yemen in 2017.

Dagalo has also had mercenaries from the Russian Wagner group in their ranks and last year visited the Kremlin to “strengthen ties with Russia”.

There are bombed-out planes at the airport in Khartoum, foreign embassies are closed and looted, and so are hospitals, factories, banks, churches, shops and emergency aid stores.

8.6 million people are according to the UN driven from their homes since the war broke out. Over 1.8 million of them have sought refuge in neighboring countries such as Chad and South Sudan.

According to the UN, more than half of Sudan’s population, around 25 million people, are completely dependent on emergency aid from outside.

The Norwegian Refugee Council’s country director takes a hard line against the international community’s indifference.

– The situation has reached a boiling point. Millions of children do not have access to adequate food, 3.8 million are malnourished and thousands of others are at risk of dying from disease as the country’s health system has almost collapsed, says Arif Noor, who heads Save the Children’s operations in Sudan.

The dispute in Sudan is between the country’s two most powerful men, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former second-in-command, warlord Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, often referred to as Hemetti.

Burhan’s main supporter is another powerful coup general, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who has been in power in neighboring Egypt since 2013.

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