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Violence in Sudan ‘has been far reaching across all sectors of society’

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Violence between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has continued for a third week.

The worsening conditions in Sudan have caused the deaths of hundreds of civilians and forced hundreds of thousands to flee.

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Michael Bennet of Colorado have formally requested the Biden administration offer all available support for humanitarian efforts in the region.

The senators highlighted the continued and indiscriminate violence, which has disrupted aid operations on the ground, in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power. Nearly 16 million Sudanese were estimated in need of assistance before the recent violence, according to the United Nations.

“As the violence has escalated, its impact has been far reaching across all sectors of society. Damage to critical civilian infrastructure, including transportation and communication infrastructure, has limited the ability of people and basic goods to move throughout the country; damage to hospitals, depleted resources, and broken medical supply chains have largely degraded the nation’s health care capacity; and continued conflict has left significant portions of the population sheltering in their homes, with dwindling or exhausted supplies of food, water, and medicine,” the senators wrote. “As the UN’s top humanitarian affairs official said this week, ‘the humanitarian situation is reaching [a] breaking point.’ Unfortunately, this conflict has also deteriorated the flow and delivery of humanitarian assistance into Sudan, and aid groups’ ability to operate on the ground.”

The senators called for the parties in the conflict to ensure safe access and movement for humanitarian workers and medical personnel, and requested that the U.S. designate a senior diplomat or envoy to ensure that securing these humanitarian assurances remains a priority in direct negotiations. The senators support USAID and State Department efforts to support aid organizations in returning to Sudan quickly and safely, leverage local humanitarian organizations as part of the ongoing response to the violence, and engage with international partners as part of the U.S. response strategy.

“[A]s aid organizations work to reestablish operations, it is vital that the U.S. State Department and USAID provide all available support to facilitate ongoing aid operations on the ground, and support a resumption of efforts — whether in Sudan or in neighboring countries — that have been suspended due to the violence. In response to the significant need, and in part to fill in as international organizations have been forced to suspend their operations, a range of local and national Sudanese organizations have stepped forward to provide capacity. We encourage you to use flexibility in supporting these local efforts, in order to best leverage them alongside international efforts,” the senators wrote.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.