August 18, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – Nearly 4.5 million people across Sudan remain in need of humanitarian help despite the country being home to one of the biggest aid operations in the world, the UN said in a statement issued by its Khartoum headquarters to mark World Humanitarian Day on Monday.
The United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Sudan Ali Al-Za’tari said the agency and humanitarian aid organisations have spent more than $10.5 billion dollars in Sudan over the past decade to meet the needs of people mainly in conflict-affected areas.
He said thousands had been forced to flee their homes as a result of war and internal fighting in Darfur, South and North Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei, while many more had lost their property and livelihoods as a result of ongoing conflicts.
Recent floods and severe weather conditions this month have also affected more than 150,000 people across Sudan.
In comments marking this year’s World Humanitarian Day, Al-Za’tari called on those in power to take the necessary measures to ensure women, children and other vulnerable civilians caught up in war-zones through no fault of their own are protected and assisted.
He paid tribute to the contribution of humanitarian aid workers in Sudan and their efforts in assisting those affected by war, drought, flood and other natural or manmade catastrophes.
“Hundreds of humanitarian aid workers in Sudan – most of them Sudanese – continue to provide effort, food, shelter, clean water, healthcare and education to people who have been directly affected by war and natural calamities. They provide this aid to whoever needs it – regardless of race, religion and politics – inspired by a common feeling and respect of humanity”, Al-Za’tari said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune ahead of World Humanitarian Day commemorations.
He also acknowledged the huge risks and enormous personal sacrifices made by aid workers to help others in dangerous conflict zones.
Just over one month ago, two Sudanese aid workers from World Vision were killed by a rocket propelled grenade that hit their office in the South Darfur capital Nyala, while 13 peacekeepers from the joint UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) have been killed in the line of duty this past year.
Al-Za’tari also praised the efforts of Sudanese humanitarian staff, local authorities and government officials, as well as the generosity of ordinary Sudanese communities, describing their contributions as the “backbone of humanitarian assistance in Sudan”.
“Hundreds of thousands of people have been given shelter, fed and nurtured by Sudanese people throughout Sudan who voluntarily have opened their houses and shared their often limited food and water to others who have been tragically affected”, he said.
World Humanitarian Day is marked annually on 19 August in honour of aid workers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
“We commemorate their sacrifice and reaffirm our commitment to the life-saving work that humanitarians carry out around the world, every day, often in difficult and dangerous circumstances where others cannot or do not want to go”, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said in a statement.
“In a time of global challenges, people and countries need to work together in common cause for peace, justice, dignity and development”, he added.