There are many places in the world that need attention and help. Palestine, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, Venezuela and Myanmar, to name a few, are some of the worst-affected corners of the planet, where at least 108.4 million people were forced to flee war last year, poverty and hunger, ethnic or Persecution for religious reasons, or even a natural disaster.
Of all these emergencies, there is one that is particularly bloody because of its severity, but also because of its anonymity: the war in Sudan that began seven months ago has turned the country into the country with the highest number of forcibly displaced people : Up to seven million, of whom at least 263,000 have crossed the border into South Sudan, a country struggling with extreme poverty and trying to build a peace that has yet to materialize after 10 years of internal conflict Has not been established.
As Director of External Relations of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Dominique Isabelle Hyde (Ottawa, 51 years old) visited the South Sudanese city of Renk, the center of arrival of refugees, in early November, where she visited for three days. to be done. The tour went on, 10,000 people turned up. From there, and setting out to make another attempt in neighboring Sudan, Hyde confirmed it was the worst humanitarian tragedy he had seen in his more than 30-year career.
Ask. There are many humanitarian emergencies in the world and amidst them all, you have decided to focus on South Sudan. Because
Answer. First of all, this is one of the worst emergencies this part of the world has faced in a long time. And we see that there is no attention. Our reaction was not the same after the war in Ukraine or Afghanistan. We are very worried. At this time our global appeal is 40% funded. This means that we are not able to respond to the increasing numbers of refugees and displaced people.
Why. What has influenced you the most?
R. I have been doing this work for 30 years. I have worked for many UN organizations and I have been amazed by the number of people there. Yesterday more than 3,000 people crossed the border and entered the country and this happens every day. The capacity limit at Renk Transit Center has long been reached. What I saw today is a center designed only for a few days that is packed with people and with really worrying health conditions, especially when we know that there is a cholera outbreak on the other side of the border in Sudan. Of course, teams are doing everything they can, but the challenge is twofold. One is to be able to provide adequate shelter to these populations, but we do not have the necessary funding, neither from any of the NGOs I have met here or from other UN agencies. The second difficulty is the problem of not being able to transport people from transit centers to refugee camps or returnees to their homes since mid-August, as the roads have been completely destroyed by the previous rains. This country has not seen such a flood in 60 years.
I have seen many people who had no place to sleep, they were covered only with tarpaulins. They even use their own clothes to keep a roof over their heads.
Why. What is most important at this time?
R. We need to provide immediate shelter; We have to be able to provide it. I have seen many people who had no place to sleep, they were covered only with tarpaulins. They even use their own clothes to keep a roof over their heads. I would also say water and sanitation. There is not enough water, no good sewage system and this makes it easy for any infectious disease to spread. And then, obviously, the food. But that’s not all: once we bring returned South Sudanese back home, they also need to be able to get that support.
Why. He noted that UNHCR has raised only 40% of the funds needed to care for displaced and refugee populations. Why was the response so low?
R. All organizations receive a lot of money from the private sector, from individuals like you and me. And this crisis has not aroused interest because it has arisen from two opposing generals and there is no will to resolve it. Also because it is far from major international donors. We have received a lot of support from the United States, the World Bank and some countries that are traditionally more liberal. But because humanitarian demands have increased so much and official development assistance has not increased, they are having to make very difficult decisions. The war in Sudan happened right after the earthquake in Syria and Turkey, it happened after Ukraine, which is also taking a lot of resources, and of course, now with Gaza. But we must remember that these are civilian populations who have nothing to do with this war. And we should not find ourselves in a situation where we have to choose between supporting the South Sudanese, the Sudanese or the Ukrainians or the Afghans.
I don’t think we have the global solidarity with the Sudanese people that we’ve seen with other nationalities
Why. Do you think the war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on the financing of other emergencies?
R. I would say last year, yes. This year, not so much. There is still a lot of support for Ukraine, and rightly so. What we are saying is that the support we get for Ukraine is the same that we should get for people around the world, for example, all the countries in Europe and America in terms of employment opportunities for Ukrainians. To open. The rates of malnutrition in Sudan are very high, we are talking about 12,000 to 13,000 children who have died of hunger. And those are avoidable problems. We know the solution and it’s not an access issue. It is literally a problem of money, that we are not able to support these families. I’m also very concerned about cholera and measles, and I don’t believe all these health questions are being answered. In short, in this case I don’t think we have the same global solidarity with the Sudanese people that we’ve seen with other nationalities.
Why. Maybe because we believe it doesn’t affect us?
R. It seems that this crisis is still far away. But one thing we are seeing is increased population movement into Europe. And this happens, first of all, because when we are not able to help, people (and especially young people) start moving towards Europe. Of course, there is space in Europe to accommodate many people, but I think they (migrants) don’t want that; They like to live with their family. But it is a growing concern and we are seeing it in Lampedusa and throughout the Mediterranean.
Why. Do you fear that this situation could become chronic in Sudan and countries bordering the refugees?
R. This should not happen because there is a possible political solution to this matter; There are possibilities of this war ending and peace being achieved. So, we must remain hopeful that the people I met today can return home and get their lives back. And the sooner we can resolve this, the better it will be for everyone affected. However, there are still many children who have lost their parents because of this war, and for them, even if it is resolved tomorrow, their lives have already changed.
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