Unprecedented Displacement Crisis in Sudan
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced on Wednesday that the displacement crisis stemming from the ongoing conflict in Sudan shows no signs of abating. An alarming statistic reveals that nearly six million people have been forced out of their homes, with women and children accounting for nearly 90% of those uprooted.
A Severe Protection Crisis
Mamadou Dian Balde, UNHCR’s Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa and Great Lakes, describes the situation as
“one of the largest protection crises that we are faced with today.”
He emphasizes that a significant number of people in urban settings within Sudan are equally affected, lacking the resources to escape the crisis.
High-Level Probe and Resolution
In a related development, the UN Human Rights Council made a significant move on Wednesday. They voted to establish a high-level probe tasked with “investigating and establishing the facts, circumstances, and root causes of all alleged human rights violations” in Sudan.
The resolution mandates the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission for Sudan to investigate violations of international humanitarian law, including those committed against refugees, and crimes related to the ongoing conflict.
Plea for a Cessation of Hostilities
UNHCR officials made an appeal, urging Sudan’s opposing militaries to engage in a peace process facilitating the return of those forced to flee the country and a cessation of hostilities. The conflict, which began in mid-April between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and other armed groups, has subjected affected families to harrowing journeys.
Many have become separated while on the move, and reports of gender-based violence are on the rise. Malnourishment among children has reached a critical level, accompanied by disease outbreaks.
Heartbreaking Human Rights Violations
Mr. Balde, UNHCR’s Regional Director, noted,
“I have seen and witnessed the level of human rights violations that have occurred within Sudan. What we hear from people who have crossed the borders is really heartbreaking, and that’s the protection crisis that we are faced with, and it has been ongoing for the past six months.”
Regional Impact and Growing Challenges
The regional implications of the Sudanese emergency are profound, particularly for neighboring countries like Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR). Both nations are grappling with the influx of refugees who have fled the devastating conflict in Sudan. These refugees bring with them stories of despair, loss, and ongoing vulnerability.
Abdouraouf Gnon Konde, UNHCR’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, expressed the unique challenges of this crisis, stating,
“In my long career as a humanitarian worker, what I have seen in Chad with this new emergency, with such rapid and extensive displacement of people, is the first time.”
A Growing Crisis in Chad
Chad, in particular, has been significantly impacted. The nation has received over 420,000 new refugees, with 300,000 in Egypt and approximately 19,000 in CAR. In a historical context,
“Chad has hosted more refugees in these mere five months than it has in the past 20 years, becoming now undeniably the epicenter of this crisis,” says Mr. Konde.
Ongoing Response and Protection
In response to this humanitarian emergency, the UNHCR has taken measures to relocate 42% of refugees away from high-risk border areas, with a primary focus on protecting the high percentage of vulnerable women and children.
Estimates suggest that by the end of 2023, the number of refugees in Chad could reach 600,000. The agency continues to address the growing crisis with urgency and dedication.