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UN: 'Many Violations' Against Sudan Civilians

FILE: Sanaa Mahmoud, a Sudanese displaced woman, and her daughters Talia and Talien, who fled after the last crisis in Sudan's capital Khartoum, look on during an interview with Reuters as they stay at a shelter in the district of Boulaq Al-Dakrour in Giza, Egypt on May 13, 2023.

GENEVA - U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths decried Thursday multiple serious breaches of an agreement by Sudan's warring parties last week to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure and to let in badly needed aid.

U.N. aid official Martin Griffiths welcomed the May 12 declaration signed in the Saudi city of Jeddah by the two sides in Sudan's bloody conflict vowing to refrain from attacking humanitarians delivering desperately-needed aid.

However, while aid deliveries have picked up, Griffiths told AFP that "there are breaches of the declaration however, which are important and egregious, and which have happened since the signing."

The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity said Wednesday that its Khartoum warehouse had been raided a day earlier, and Griffiths pointed to an attack the same day on the World Food Program office in the Sudanese capital among "many" examples.

"We are naturally enough building up a record of such events, and we will be talking to the two parties about them as the process goes forward," he said.

Griffiths stressed that assistance must be scaled up dramatically to respond to the situation in Sudan since conflict erupted on April 15 between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who leads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Around 1,000 people have been killed, mainly in and around Khartoum as well as in the long-troubled western region of Darfur, while more than a million others have been uprooted by the battles.

And "we're only a month in," Griffiths pointed out.

The U.N. said Wednesday that half of Sudan's population needs humanitarian aid, and that more than $3 billion will be needed this year alone to provide urgent assistance inside the country and to those fleeing across its borders.

Given the enormous needs, Griffiths insisted this was "a very modest appeal." urging donors to step up.

While discussions in Jeddah are continuing to reach a ceasefire, Griffiths explained that the negotiations around the declaration signed last was separate.

They were focused on ensuring that aid could flow even if the fighting continues, and to help bring an end to the relentless attacks and looting that depleted food stocks and put most health facilities in Khartoum out of service.

The WFP told AFP Thursday that since the start of the conflict, it had lost nearly $56 million due to looted food, stolen cash and fuel, damaged or stolen vehicles and office equipment.

"That's an enormous and shocking figure, a disgraceful figure," Griffiths said.

The Sudanese capital remains "one of the most dangerous places in the world" for humanitarians to work, he added.

In Darfur, Griffiths warned of the "dangerous and added ethnic element, which by the way is now facing the whole country."

Violence in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, has killed hundreds and caused the health system to "collapse," according to medics.

Darfur "was a place of dire need and extraordinary insecurity and great fragility" even before the latest crisis, Griffiths pointed out, saying the renewed conflict was "just inconceivably dreadful for its people."

He said efforts were underway to organize aid deliveries across the border from Chad into Darfur, and that he hoped airlifts could be organized "maybe out of Nairobi" into Darfur and Khartoum.

At the same time, Griffiths lamented that due to continued bureaucratic hurdles "we're still having difficulty moving supplies that are coming into Port Sudan" further into the country.

This situation could be fixed, he said, and "it should be done urgently."