EU concerned about violence in Blue Nile, South Kordofan

The EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management is “extremely worried” by the worsening situation in the war-torn Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.

The EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management conveyed his condolences to the families of the three humanitarian aid workers killed in Kurmuk locality, Blue Nile state, on Sunday, in an EU press release today.

Commissioner Christos Stylianides said that he is “extremely worried by the worsening situation in the conflict-affected areas of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, where in less than a month three episodes of grave attacks against a health facility, humanitarian assets and, now, personnel have occurred.

“This is unacceptable, and I urge the parties to the conflict to protect humanitarian space and respect the provisions of international humanitarian law.

“The resumption of violent attacks in the region is affecting hundreds of thousands of civilians and the capacity of humanitarian actors to deliver effective and principled humanitarian assistance is hampered by access and security constraints,” he added.

On Sunday evening, two Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) employees and a volunteer were killed, and another volunteer was wounded, in an armed attack Blue Nile state. It is as yet unclear who is responsible for the attack.

On 20 January, a hospital, run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF/Doctors Without Borders), was bombed in Farandallah, in the Nuba mountains, South Kordofan state, while on 26 January a clearly marked humanitarian helicopter was forced to land in a rebel-held area in the state.

Government restrictions

Since civil war broke out in South Kordofan and Blue Nile in 2011, government restrictions on humanitarian access have prevented the provision of life-saving assistance to hundreds of thousands of civilians.

The Belgian branch of MSF announced the closure of its activities in Sudan on 29 January, owing to “the Sudanese government’s systematic denial of access to people trapped in conflict areas”.

In a press release, MSF stated that a “total denial of access to Blue Nile state, forced closure of activities in East Darfur, and administrative obstacles and blockages in South Darfur” have made it impossible for MSF-Belgium to respond to medical emergencies in these areas.

“The government has many ways to shut off our access to the people who are in the greatest need, and it uses them.

“High level meetings we have attended have made it clear that humanitarian assistance to populations most affected by conflict in Blue Nile State and southern areas of Darfur will continue to be blocked and restricted as long as military operations are prioritised over humanitarian assistance,” said Dr Bart Janssens, director of operations for MSF in Brussels.