Statement by the Office of Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan on Attacks Against Humanitarian Actors
The humanitarian community in Sudan is raising its voice today against intolerable attacks that are putting the humanitarian operation and the welfare of the people of Darfur in jeopardy.
Attacks against those implementing humanitarian activities are never justified. Such incidents in Darfur have reached an unprecedented level. Since the start of the year three humanitarian workers and one contract truck driver have been killed and nearly 90 people working on behalf of the humanitarian operation have been abducted, mostly during hijacking incidents. There have been 23 break-ins and armed assaults at humanitarian and UN compounds. Such attacks are unacceptable and indefensible
Today, 29 drivers with World Food Programme contract trucking partners and four others working with the State Water Corporation, a key partner of UNICEF, remain unaccounted for having been abducted at gunpoint in separate incidents.
There are more than 14,000 humanitarian workers in Darfur and many thousands more in other parts of Sudan. They are supported by technical experts, civilian drivers and ancillary workers without whom life-saving humanitarian activities would not be possible. The vast majority of these are Sudanese citizens, committed to helping vulnerable conflict-affected civilians. This generosity and selflessness must not be abused.
Those who commit attacks against humanitarian workers are harming innocent people – many of them children – who depend on humanitarian assistance for their food, health care, water, sanitation and other vital services:
* The kidnapping of four State Water Corporation staff working with UNICEF, along with their drilling equipment, on 20 March means that 180,000 people in North Darfur risk not receiving clean water this year, while the water programme elsewhere in Darfur may be scaled back – affecting a possible 400,000 people.
* The hijacking of 56 World Food Programme contracted trucks – currently resulting in 36 missing trucks and the abduction of 29 drivers – has slowed food delivery to Darfur, threatening the ability of WFP to provide timely food assistance to more than two million people throughout the coming rainy season.
* Attacks on non-governmental organizations’ staff and compounds have impeded their work and also prevented access to remote parts of Darfur.
The humanitarian community condemns all acts of violence, calls upon those responsible to immediately cease all attacks, calls for the immediate release of those abducted and urges that no impunity is given to those who continue to target humanitarians anywhere in Sudan.
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