The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, is very concerned that the ongoing, brutal conflict in Sudan is now forcing tens of thousands of people to leave their homes in search of safety both within the country and across its borders. Humanitarian needs in Sudan were already enormous prior to the surge in violence, including those of the 3.7 million internally displaced people. Their numbers are rapidly increasing, although no statistics are yet available.
At least 20,000 Sudanese refugees have fled to Chad, a country with strained resources that was already hosting almost 600,000 refugees. The new arrivals are from Darfur, one of the regions of Sudan most affected by violence and where growing instability might cause much larger displacement in the coming weeks.
Others have crossed into Egypt. UNHCR is discussing with the Egyptian government how to ensure that people in need of international protection are adequately received and processed.
And at least 4,000 South Sudanese refugees – among the 1.1 million refugees from neighbouring countries currently hosted by Sudan – have been forced to prematurely return home to deep uncertainty. They are likely to be followed by others.
The High Commissioner is appealing to all countries neighbouring Sudan to keep their borders open to people seeking safety and protection. UNHCR is stepping up its support to their governments as they prepare for larger numbers of arrivals.
The High Commissioner wishes to echo the repeated calls made by the UN Secretary-General for hostilities to cease immediately, and for all parties to embark on meaningful peace efforts. This is urgently needed also to prevent another major displacement crisis that could further destabilize a fragile region.
Meanwhile UNHCR, together with the rest of the UN, remains in Sudan in support of its people. It continues to operate wherever it has safe access and is also using some of the community networks established during the pandemic. UNHCR intends scale up operations everywhere in Sudan as soon as possible.
Last but not least, the High Commissioner calls on the international community to urgently provide adequate resources to support UNHCR’s efforts. Refugee responses in countries of the region have long been extremely underfunded. We must urgently address the needs of refugees as well as host countries and communities especially as more people seek safety. A full-blown catastrophe can be avoided, but the clock is ticking, fast.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).