Sudan

10 crucial steps to address humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan

Humanitarian agencies are preparing to increase assistance for up to 2 million conflict-affected civilians in Darfur and another 200,000 refugees in neighboring Chad. Heavy seasonal rains have already started in the region, hampering the delivery of aid as humanitarian conditions rapidly deteriorate. The following steps need to be taken quickly if hundreds of thousands of lives are to be saved:
1. Fund UN Appeals. For months the UN has been appealing for $171 million to assist Sudanese displaced in Darfur and Chad. Only $50 million has been received, with the United States contributing the most. The planning numbers for those in acute need have since doubled from 1 million to 2 million people and the United Nations now requires more than $250 million to save their lives. We urge member states to quickly pledge and satisfy UN appeals.

2. Support UN Coordination. Only with the cooperation of both the Government of Sudan and the opposition forces can the United Nations' operational agencies and their international partners mount a humanitarian response on the scale now required to save hundreds of thousands of lives in Darfur. In cooperation with the Government of Sudan, full support must be given to UN coordination of such a response and such support must be sustained.

3. Ensure Unhindered Access. While access to Darfur has improved in recent days, unhindered and sustained access for humanitarian aid workers must be guaranteed. This includes the prompt issuance of travel documents, freedom of movement and ensuring a secure environment for aid workers.

4. Facilitate Movement of Goods. Trucks essential for the delivery of aid are bogged down in customs. Essential medicines not manufactured in Sudan are blocked from immediate distribution to those who are suffering. These and many other similar administrative and bureaucratic obstacles cannot be tolerated. Pressure must be brought on the opposition forces and the Government of Sudan to remove all barriers to the delivery of life-saving materials and services to war-affected populations.

5. Plan Ahead. Humanitarian actors must continue to mobilize and plan for all emergency scenarios for Darfur. Food and non-food items required to assist some two million people are substantial and require detailed preparations that include not only short-term needs, but those over the next 12 months. Planning for such a response must be ongoing, integrated and forward leaning.

6. Enhance Response Capacity. The IRC is planning to double its capacity in Chad and Darfur. We urge other humanitarian agencies to rapidly deploy their most experienced and qualified staff to boost capacity in the region, fulfill unmet needs, support UN field operations and eventually assist in the safe and voluntary return of the uprooted.

7. Provide Logistical Support. Seasonal rains will exaccerbate an already complex operating environment. Heavy transport trucks and 4-wheel drive vehicles must be moved in now to facilitate the delivery of aid. Rail lines must remain open and available for humanitarian use, both from border countries and within Sudan. Airlift capacity must be considered. Radios, essential for staff security, and other communications equipment must be cleared for use and synchronized among emergency responders.

8. Comply With and Extend Ceasefire. We urge the Justice and Equality Movement, the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Government of Sudan to extend and comply fully with the ceasefire agreement of April 8th. Abiding by the ceasefire agreement will halt ongoing violence against civilians. Full financial and political support must also be given to the African Union to fully establish the ceasefire commission and deploy protection units as set forth in the April 8th accord.

9. Reinforce the Political Process for Peace. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's offer to assist in the mediation of peace for Darfur should be embraced by the parties to the conflict. Together with the African Union, the Government of Chad and others, Mr. Annan's involvement and that of his planned special envoy offers the best hope for addressing the root causes of the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

10. Remember Chad. Although the humanitarian response for Sudanese refugees in Chad has not encountered the same access obstacles as in Darfur, the Chad response has been hindered by poor funding, logistical constraints and security concerns. We should not isolate the needs of refugees in Chad from the displaced in Sudan. We urge the international community to integrate the needs of all Sudanese refugees and internally displaced into a regional response.

Note to Editors

The IRC is currently providing emergency health, water, sanitation and protection services for tens of thousands of displaced Sudanese in and around Al Fasher in North Darfur and for the growing numbers of refugees fleeing to the areas of Bahai and Cariari in northeastern Chad. The IRC has been delivering humanitarian assistance in Sudan for more than 20 years.

Founded in 1933, the IRC is a global leader in relief, rehabilitation, protection, post-conflict development, resettlement services and advocacy for refugees and others uprooted or affected by persecution and violent conflict. To learn more, visit www.theIRC.org.

Media Contacts:

Melissa Winkler, 212-551-0972 / 646-734-0305 / melissa@theirc.org
Edward Bligh, 212-551-3114 / ebligh@theirc.org
Peter Biro, 381-63-7412-717 / peterb@theirc.org