On Wednesday, the United Nations’ (UN) humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, arrived at Sudan’s main seaport as thousands of Sudanese and foreign nationals gathered there in the hopes of escaping by plane or boat.
The situation in Sudan erupted after months of tension between the military, led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and a rival paramilitary group commanded by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
Griffiths tweeted that he had spoken to both leaders and is seeking guarantees from the warring sides for the safe passage of humanitarian aid. However, there remain questions over how UN agencies can operate with limited staff and supplies amid the chaos.
More than a week after the fighting erupted in Khartoum on April 15, thousands of UN workers were evacuated from the city by land convoy to Port Sudan. Some UN offices, such as the World Food Programme, had to pause their services after two of its workers were killed in fighting in southern Sudan. Griffiths said that six trucks belonging to the World Food Programme carrying aid to the western region of Darfur were looted on the road.
He singled out Darfur and Khartoum as needing assistance. The conflict has killed 550 people, including civilians, and wounded more than 4,900. It has displaced at least 334,000 people inside Sudan and sent tens of thousands more to neighboring countries.
Many Western countries have completed evacuations for their citizens from the country, with France, Britain, and now the United States using Port Sudan as a base for those looking to leave.
However, citizens of other nations are still struggling to find a way out. For thousands of Sudanese and foreigners flocking to Port Sudan, the city was the last stop before leaving the country. Saudi warships have been ferrying mainly foreigners, but also dual Sudanese nationals and others across the Red Sea to the city of Jeddah in the kingdom.
The damage was already evident last week when a local news outlet tweeted a video showing the aftermath of fighting in the Shambat area of Khartoum. The fighting continued in and around Khartoum, and there were increasing signs of lawlessness in many of the city’s neighborhoods, with reports that more diplomatic facilities were being targeted.
Armed men stormed the building housing the office of Saudi Arabia’s cultural attaché in Sudan, seizing some of the attaché’s property and disrupting the attaché’s systems and servers. The situation in Sudan remains grim, with many people unable to flee and the humanitarian situation worsening with each passing day.