Sudan: People eating “roots and leaves” as humanitarian aid blocked
A refugee family from South Kordofan at a registration centre in Yida, South Sudan. Credit: UNHCR/K. Mahoney
OCHA’s Director of Operations, John Ging, said at UN Headquarters today that he had asked the Security Council for help for some 900,000 Sudanese people who are in need of humanitarian aid in South Kordofan and Blue Nile provinces and in neighbouring countries where they have sought refuge.
“We hear that the fighting is intensifying,” Mr. Ging said after delivering Under-Secretary-General Valerie Amos’ statement to the Security Council.
“We hear incredibly alarming stories of people having to rely on roots and leaves.
This is 2013, and to think that hundreds of thousands of people are leaving in such desperate and deplorable circumstances, and we can’t get in to help them as humanitarian organizations is just not acceptable.”
“There is a deficit of political will on both sides to do what is necessary to actually give the access that we need to help the people where they so urgently and desperately need our help,” he said.
“We have conveyed the bleakness… and the urgency of the situation, and hope now for the support of the Security Council in generating political incentive, motivation and impetus that will get us across the line from just rhetoric to action.”
“I don’t presume to tell them how to do their job,” Mr. Ging said. “We need now access, and we need it urgently and desperately, and that was my message to the Council, who understood the message.”
Mr. Ging said there had been an intensive negotiating process on access with the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) under the Tripartite Proposal, which was submitted by the African Union, the UN and the League of Arab States, but that the parties had been unable to agree.
He added that humanitarian organizations were standing by with thousands of tonnes of food, and with medicines and vaccines which they would be able to take into the areas immediately if access was granted.
Reports from those fleeing the two states and the condition of refugees arriving in camps in South Sudan indicate that there is severe hunger in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. However, international humanitarian organizations are unable to access areas controlled by the SPLM-N in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and cannot verify these reports.