BEIRUT

Middle East

Sudan aid suspension having 'severe' impact: ICRC

Internally displaced persons cross the Nile river to get to Minkamman, on March 1, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/JM LOPEZ)

KHARTOUM: Sudan's three-month suspension of aid work by the international Red Cross is having a "severe" impact as armed conflict worsens in the country, the ICRC said on Monday.

Sudanese authorities on February 1 suspended operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), saying the Geneva-based organisation had violated guidelines for working in the country.

The suspension was one of many restrictions placed on foreign aid workers in Sudan, where the UN says 6.1 million people -- about 17 percent of the population -- need assistance.

Last year, the ICRC helped about 1.5 million people in Sudan.

But the suspension has resulted in "severe consequences for the Sudanese population in areas affected by the armed conflict, which has intensified over the past months and caused massive displacement in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan," an ICRC statement said.

It called on Sudanese authorities to lift the suspension, "be it on a temporary basis while discussions take place -- in order that the humanitarian needs of people benefiting from ICRC programmes can be addressed," Eric Marclay, the ICRC's head of operations for East Africa, said in the statement from Geneva.

Sudanese officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Darfur, in western Sudan, this year experienced its worst violence in a decade, with about 300,000 people displaced at the peak of the unrest.

The United Nations said last week that fighting between rebels and government troops has intensified in recent weeks in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, adding to humanitarian needs in an area where more than one million people were already affected.

 

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