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Internally displaced women wait in a queue to collect aid from a group at a camp in Sudan’s Gadaref State on May 12, 2024. CFP.

UN humanitarians alarmed by displacement of tens of thousands in Sudan

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While devastating fighting continues in Sudan’s southwest Darfur region, its sudden breakout in the southeast region, displacing tens of thousands of people, is alarming, UN humanitarians said on Wednesday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it is alarmed by the displacement in and from Sennar State. The clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in the town of Sinja were sudden and violent, forcing families to flee east toward the neighboring state of Gedaref.

OCHA said it has a team in Gedaref visiting reception sites where displaced families seek shelter. Children and older people are among those arriving in harsh conditions, unable to bring much with them.

The office said it is working with UN agencies and other partners to provide critical humanitarian assistance, with colleagues in Gedaref reporting that people continue to arrive in large numbers. The World Food Programme reported prepositioning more than 2,200 metric tons of food to respond to the crisis.

The humanitarians said they are deeply concerned that the spreading conflict and rising insecurity could sever a key route for transporting humanitarian assistance from Port Sudan in the east. With famine looming, sustaining the delivery of life-saving aid across conflict lines and borders is imperative.

“We call on the parties to de-escalate immediately, spare civilians, and ensure safe passage for those fleeing the fighting in Sinja and all conflict-affected areas in Sudan,” OCHA said. “They must have access to the humanitarian assistance they rely on.”

In the southwest of Sudan, OCHA said, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported at least eight children, including an 18-month-old, were killed in a reported drone attack on a mosque in El Fasher, North Darfur State, on Monday. Nine other children were injured.

“The mosque had been serving as a community kitchen, providing food to vulnerable children and their families,” the humanitarians said. “UNICEF underscores that the senseless killing of children in Sudan must end.”

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