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To avert catastrophe in Sudan, the international community must immediately avail resources for life-saving humanitarian aid – Mbeki

ON April 15, 2024, a critically important ‘International Humanitarian Conference for Sudan and its Neighbours’ started in Paris, convened by France, Germany and the European Union.

It is of the greatest importance that this very timely conference must succeed in its efforts urgently to generate the humanitarian resources needed, particularly in Sudan.

A year ago, armed conflict erupted in Khartoum between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.
Since then, I have informally engaged Sudanese and other stakeholders, including humanitarian actors, on how best to address the crisis that now imperils the future of Sudan and threatens the stability of the region.

Immense suffering is being inflicted on the Sudanese people, with over 14,000 fatalities.
More than eight million people are displaced, and critical infrastructure has been destroyed and disrupted in Khartoum and other parts of the country.

This includes telecommunications, agricultural activities, banking, and domestic and international trade in goods and services.

Attacks against civilians, including ethnic targeting in Darfur, acts of sexual and other gender-based violence, looting, occupation of civilian houses, have continued in breach of International Humanitarian Law, and despite solemn commitments by the belligerents in the Jeddah Declaration of May 2023.

Sudan is now on the precipice of a human-made and entirely avoidable famine.

Already, acute hunger and malnutrition have taken hold, with children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, being particularly vulnerable.

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Over 70% of the health facilities have been destroyed or incapacitated, and outbreaks of preventable diseases, including cholera and measles, are being registered.

Moreover, the actors in the conflict continue systematically to obstruct humanitarians, to loot and impede the flow of assistance.

To the contrary, local and other humanitarian actors need consistent support for their critical interventions.

More than half of Sudan’s population needs assistance, yet a mere 6% of the UN funding appeal of US$2.
7 billion has been met.

To avert catastrophe, the international community must immediately avail resources for life-saving humanitarian aid.

The Sudanese parties in conflict must facilitate humanitarian access and facilitate humanitarian movements across frontlines and Sudan’s borders.

They must also abide by their obligations to protect and respect local and other humanitarian actors, while violations and abuses against civilians must be stopped and perpetrators punished.

More fundamentally, regional and international actors must urgently re-engage their efforts to assist the Sudanese people to identify pathways for ending the violence and achieving the democratic transformation of Sudan.

We extend our fervent hope to the Paris Conference for its success and urge all the delegates practically to respond to the pressing demands of millions of ordinary Sudanese, and others in that neighbourhood, for humanitarian assistance.

  • Thabo Mbeki is the former President of South Africa and is the Patron of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.
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By THABO MBEKI

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