Statement attributable to the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ms Marta Ruedas, on fatal attack on humanitarians in W. Darfur, Sudan [EN/AR]

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(Khartoum, 10 September 2015) The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ms Marta Ruedas, strongly condemns the fatal attack carried out Tuesday in West Darfur against State Ministry of Health (SMoH) and World Health Organization (WHO) representatives. The attack took place about 40 kms from Geneina in Kreinik locality as the aid workers were returning from a routine mission. Unidentified gunmen ambushed the vehicle, killing the driver and a security official. Two health ministry staff and a WHO doctor in the vehicle were unharmed. The assailants stole the vehicle and fled the scene.

“Insecurity continues to hamper the operations of courageous humanitarian workers in Darfur, as demonstrated by Tuesday’s violent act,” said Ms. Ruedas. “Over 2.5 million vulnerable people in Darfur need some form of humanitarian assistance, yet humanitarian workers are confronted by danger on a daily basis.”

The health ministry and WHO representatives were working as part of an ongoing assessment team operating throughout Darfur to ascertain whether guinea-worm disease (dracunculiasis) is still present in Sudan. WHO is currently carrying out random sampling at health facilities and in villages to assess the presence of the parasitic disease, with a view to certifying Sudan as dracunculiasis-free. WHO is the only organization mandated to certify countries as free of the disease.

“WHO deplores this attack on our health workers and government colleagues. Health services are a pivotal part of all humanitarian work, and we will continue to work tirelessly to provide this basic right to the most vulnerable people in Sudan,” said Dr. Naeema Hassan al-Gaseer, WHO Representative in Sudan.

Kreinik locality hosts about 80,000 displaced people, in three main camps. It is one of the localities in West Darfur with the greatest humanitarian needs and many humanitarian organisations travel frequently to the area.

Since January 2015 there have been 131 security incidents in Darfur that have affected humanitarian workers and peacekeepers, including abductions, armed attacks, carjackings and crime.

For further information, please contact Samantha Newport, Chief, Communication & Information Section, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan (newports@un.org / +249 912 174 454)