A humanitarian convoy of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was attacked by Sudanese army soldiers in southwest Khartoum yesterday. Two people were killed, seven others, including three ICRC staff members, were wounded. The convoy came under attack in the El Shajara neighbourhood where it would evacuate vulnerable civilians from the area.
In a statement yesterday, the ICRC said it was appalled by the “deliberate attack” on the convoy.
”This attack is unacceptable, and we are grief-stricken”, said Pierre Dorbes, the head of the ICRC delegation in Sudan. “I am shocked by the total disrespect for the Red Cross emblem, which must be respected and protected in accordance with international humanitarian law. Our mission today was to bring these civilians to safety. Instead, lives have been tragically lost. My heart goes out to the loved ones of the people killed, and we desperately hope those injured will make a full recovery.”
The humanitarian convoy, consisting of three ICRC vehicles and three buses, all clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem, was due to evacuate a hundred vulnerable civilians from the area to Wad Madani, capital of El Gezira.
The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) reacted with a statement in which it expressed its regret for the incident and argued that “the incident occurred as a result of the Red Cross members not adhering to the coordination points that had been agreed upon.
“At the initiative of the ICRC, the armed forces agreed with representatives of the international organisation to evacuate civilians (including foreigners of different nationalities) who were present in St. Mary’s Church in the El Shajara area of Khartoum,” the SAF stated.
“The convoy was accompanied by a rebel force in a vehicle carrying a 12.7 mm machine gun. It approached our defence positions, which led to the convoy being exposed to attack which caused several casualties among the organisation’s staff members.”
Today, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan Clementine Nkweta-Salami expressed “deep alarm and shock” at the news of an attack on an ICRC convoy in Khartoum yesterday.
“I am horrified by this reckless attack on an ICRC convoy, which tragically claimed the lives of two people and injured seven more, including three from ICRC. … My thoughts are with the families and colleagues affected,” the humanitarian coordinator stated.
“It is incumbent upon the parties engaged in conflict to ensure the safe evacuation of civilians from areas of active combat. This entails an obligation to provide and facilitate unimpeded passage for those seeking to leave conflict zones,” she added.