Source: UN News |

United Nation’s rights chief says horrified by Sudan escalation as famine draws nearer

The UN-partnered response plan aims to reach and support 15 million of the worst-affected people but $2.7 billion is needed urgently to do so

NEW YORK, United States of America, May 17, 2024/APO Group/ --

According to the UN human rights office, OHCHR, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, held separate phone calls on Tuesday with Lt-General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, Commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who leads the rival Rapid Support Forces.

Diplomatic approach

Mr. Türk urged them both to act immediately – and publicly – to de-escalate the situation, said OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani, who noted that the UN rights chief had previously approached the rival generals in November 2022.

“He warned both commanders that fighting in El-Fasher, where more than 1.8 million residents and internally displaced people are currently encircled and at imminent risk of famine, would have a catastrophic impact on civilians, and it  would deepen intercommunal conflict with disastrous humanitarian consequences,” Ms. Shamdasani told journalists in Geneva.

“He reminded the commanders of their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure strict compliance with the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution, and to put an end to any ongoing violations, as well as ensure accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed by their respective forces and allies.”

13 months of heavy fighting

Thirteen months of war in Sudan have left half of the population in need of humanitarian assistance – a staggering 25 million people, including 14 million children. Millions have been repeatedly displaced, becoming more vulnerable each time, and aid teams have warned repeatedly that famine is closing in, with the approach of the rainy season. 

The UN human rights office expressed concerns about the ongoing and lasting impact of conflict across Sudan, while highlighting the dire situation affecting civilians caught up in escalating violence in and around El Fasher in Darfur.

At least 58 civilians are reported to have been killed and 213 others since fighting dramatically escalated in the North Darfur town last week, OHCHR said.

Disease, famine closing in

Echoing concerns about the emergency situation, the UN aid coordination office, OCHA, warned that diseases are closing in and people are “staring famine in the face”.

The UN-partnered response plan aims to reach and support 15 million of the worst-affected people but $2.7 billion is needed urgently to do so.

Today, humanitarians have received only 12 per cent of the total and without an immediate injection of funds, OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke warned that aid teams “won’t be able to scale up in time to stave off famine and prevent further deprivation”.

He added that funding would be used to “bring in more food, health services, shelter, water and sanitation, but also for prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, help to the victims, and support for the re-opening of schools for out-of-school children”.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN News.