23-05-2023 | di COOPI
Sudan. INGO Forum condems recents attacks
The Sudan INGO Forum, to whom COOPI - Cooperazione Internazionale belongs, denounces that over the last week at least 15 offices of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) have been attacked and looted in Khartoum as the city witnessed an escalation of violence. Vital equipment and assistance including medicine, fuel, laptops and vehicles have been destroyed or stolen. This will further hinder providing life-saving support to people affected by the current conflict.
These incidents are the latest in continued targeted attacks on non-governmental organisations’ (NGO) premises across the country over the last month of fighting, including in West and South Darfur.
Worryingly several reports indicate that armed actors are using such offices and warehouses as operating bases, in contradiction to the recently signed Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan. The commitment, signed by both Sudanese Armed Forces’ (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces’ RSF representatives less than a week ago, clearly commits the parties to the conflict to ‘vacate and refrain from occupying, as well as to respect and protect all public and private facilities, such as hospital and water and electricity installations and refrain from using them for military purposes’.
The Declaration of Commitment also commits parties of the conflict to ‘Protect and respect humanitarian workers, assets, supplies, offices, warehouses and other facilities’.
Whilst it is positive that both parties have publicly acknowledged their pre-existing commitments under international humanitarian law in the Jeddah Declaration of Commitment, these incidents reflect an entirely different reality on the ground where there has been almost no tangible change since the signing of the declaration and limited implementation or respect for the commitments contained within it.
Although the total financial cost of these attacks across the INGO community is not yet known. Some individual INGOs indicate the cost will run into millions of US Dollars to replace – money that should be spent on providing life-saving assistance and services. While the INGO community remains committed to responding to the unraveling humanitarian crisis1, in areas like Khartoum and some Darfur States many INGOs indicate they will need to rebuild their humanitarian programmes from scratch, which will take time and significant resources. Continued attacks in such manner will only serve to further impede humanitarian organisations’ ability to reach people in critical need.
Since fighting erupted on 15 April, at least 600 people have been killed and over 5000 injured, with serious protection concerns reported including at least 28 attacks on healthcare facilities and personnel, targeted looting of civilian property, targeted killing of civilians often based on tribal affiliation, forced recruitment and use of heavy artillery in densely populated areas. Schools, markets and other social infrastructure, as well as premises of local aid responders, have also been damaged or destroyed, bringing the economy to a standstill, increasing already high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition and further undermining humanitarian response.
At the same time, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has increased from 15.8 million people in November 2022 (already one third of the population), to an estimated 24.7 million, representing a 57% increase.
The Sudan INGO Forum calls on all parties to the conflict to cease immediately attacks on humanitarian workers, assets, supplies, offices, warehouses and other facilities and take urgent steps to operationalise their commitments under International Humanitarian Law, reaffirmed in the Jeddah Declaration, including the protection of civilians, civilian property and critical civilian infrastructure.
The Sudan INGO Forum is comprised of 70 INGO, among which COOPI - Cooperazione Internazionale, providing humanitarian and development assistance and peacebuilding interventions across Sudan.
For more information, please contact Anthony Neal, Sudan INGO Forum Coordinator, email@example.com