AFRICA/SUDAN - Humanitarian crisis and education system on the verge of collapse: a permanent ceasefire is urgently needed

Thursday, 6 June 2024

Port Sudan (Agenzia Fides) - The ongoing fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the groups supporting them against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is causing a further increase in the flow of refugees and displaced people who recently sought refuge in the Jebel Marra camp in Central Darfur. According to local sources, about 5,000 families have arrived in recent days, lacking food, medicine, water and any kind of comfort.

According to the spokesperson of the Coordination Office for Internally Displaced Persons and Refugee Camps in Darfur, the daily human rights violations are due to the blocking of vital resources that are used as weapons against unarmed civilians. The office called on all parties involved in the conflict to give priority to humanitarian needs and to accept a permanent ceasefire. At the same time, the coordination office appealed to the United Nations and other international humanitarian organizations to intervene urgently to combat the increasing suffering and hunger that afflicts the entire population.

In addition, the health and education systems are on the verge of collapse. In recent days, it was announced that the opening of the school year, scheduled for May 26, has been postponed due to the spread of visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar) in eastern Sudan, which has increased by 25 percent compared to the same quarter last year. In a press release, the deputy director of the Ministry of Education in El Gedaref, Abdelwahab Ibrahim, justified the delay in the opening of schools by providing accommodation for the displaced, supporting teachers and preparing the school environment. "More than 350,000 teachers, administrative staff and education staff live in catastrophic conditions," the Darfur Teachers' Committee complained in early 2024, rejecting the decision to open schools. "The war must end in order to be able to resume work," said the teachers, who urged the Sudanese authorities to pay salaries, rehabilitate school buildings and supply textbooks.

Since the conflict began in April 2023, the country has been experiencing one of the largest ongoing humanitarian crises: more than 6.5 million people have been displaced, about 65% of the population has no access to health care, and 70% of hospital facilities in the areas affected by the fighting have been destroyed. Port Sudan acts like a huge refugee camp: in recent months, the eastern part of the country has hosted around 500,000 displaced people, of whom at least 270,000 have remained in the city, which has become the de facto capital in these months of war. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 6/6/2024)