Statement attributable to the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ms. Marta Ruedas on World Humanitarian Day 2017 [EN/AR]
Khartoum, 21 August 2017. The humanitarian community in Sudan is today celebrating World Humanitarian Day, held every year to highlight the contribution of humanitarian workers who assist and protect people in need. Specifically, this Day pays tribute to aid workers who have risked and lost their lives in humanitarian service, and mobilises people to advocate for humanitarian action.
Aid workers in Sudan operate in difficult situations to ensure that people in need receive life-saving assistance. About 97 per cent of staff working for international aid organisations (UN and INGOs) are Sudanese – in other words it is mostly Sudanese aid workers helping people in need in Sudan.
On this World Humanitarian Day, I commend the thousands of humanitarian workers in Sudan that work around the clock to provide aid and long-term rehabilitation to disaster-affected communities and people in need regardless of race, religion and politics, inspired by a common sense of solidarity and humanity. Humanitarian aid is based on a number of founding principles including humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence, and respecting these principles remains essential in Sudan as elsewhere. In line with these principles, all parties must continue to support and enable the humanitarian response, and aid workers who take risks and make sacrifices to help others must be protected.
In 2016, UN agencies, international and national NGOs, and other partners provided food, shelter, water, health, education and other assistance to about 3.9 million people in need across Sudan. During the first half of 2017, some 2.5 million people received food, nutrition and other assistance. This has been possible due to humanitarian access opening up since the beginning of 2017, with aid agencies able to reach people in need in areas that have been inaccessible during recent years, particularly in parts of the Jebel Marra area. We commend the Government of Sudan for these efforts and hope that humanitarian access will continue to improve, allowing more people in need to receive assistance in more areas.
While new internal displacement in 2017 has been significantly less than in previous years, the number of South Sudanese refugees seeking shelter and assistance in Sudan has increased by about 176,000 in 2017 so far alone, bringing their total number since December 2013 to over 416,000. The Government and people of Sudan have a long tradition of generosity towards migrants and have been generously hosting South Sudanese and other refugees. We hope that this tradition continues, and that the policy to assist refugees living outside of camps to ensure they access basic services alongside host communities will also continue.
Hundreds of thousands of IDPs in Darfur still live in camps, in need of assistance and support. We are working with national institutions to resolve this situation, and we call on all stakeholders to find durable solutions so that those IDPs who have been in camps can take up their lives as ordinary Sudanese citizens.
The humanitarian situation this year has also been complicated by the outbreak of Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) which has been taking place across the country. The Government of Sudan has actively moved to respond to this situation, one that has required extraordinary efforts to bring under control. Humanitarian agencies are supporting the Government’s efforts in this regard and will continue to do so.
Overall, the United Nations and aid organisations have contributed some US$11 billion for humanitarian action in Sudan since 2003, including almost $570 million last year. The 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan appeals for $804 million, of which about $182 million has been received. We look forward to the continued generosity of donors to ensure that critical needs can be addressed in a timely manner. In 2017, the Sudan Multi-Year Humanitarian Strategy has been launched to move toward more durable solutions and ensure that humanitarian and development partners work together to implement a long-term, sustainable approach to address new and protracted needs.
As well as national and international organisations, I would like to highlight the contribution of the Sudanese people themselves, the local communities and the increasing involvement of the Sudanese private sector who provide shelter, food and protection to thousands of their fellow men and women who are in need. World Humanitarian Day is a day to reiterate our determination to engage and I take this opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations and partners to unite our strength to fulfil our shared humanitarian and moral obligation. I thank all our humanitarian partners, including the Government of Sudan, UN agencies, NGOs, donors and member states for your commitment, engagement and support. In particular, we thank the people of Sudan, for their humility and humanity which can be seen on a daily basis towards their countrymen and to their neighbours in need.