World Humanitarian Day: Caritas Aid Workers in Sudan’s Crisis
Since conflict erupted in Sudan in mid-April, it has become one of the most dangerous places not only for families and communities affected by the crisis, but for the national and international humanitarian workers and partners supporting them. Since the onset of the crisis, more than 4.3 million people, including aid workers, have been forced to flee due to the conflict. A reported 19 aid workers have been killed in numerous attacks (source: OCHA)
As we honour World Humanitarian Day on August 19th, we remember those who have lost their lives and risk their safety to help others. Targeting aid workers violates the rules of war and international law. They remain neutral and impartial in conflicts, focusing on alleviating suffering and providing urgent relief to families and communities affected by crisis. Ensuring safety of civilians and those who assist them is vital.
Following the outbreak of Sudan’s on April 15th, tragic consequences have unfolded. On that day, three United Nations World Food Programme staff members died in North Darfur, with others injured.
One of the Caritas network’s members, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), has their international staff working remotely as they await visas to return to Sudan. This process has been extended for several months. Yet, the majority of CRS staff are from the countries within which they work. Currently, most CRS Sudanese staff remain working and living in the country. Their presence, commitment and partnerships play a life-saving role, especially in contexts where access is restricted to populations in urgent need.
To ensure the seamless continuation of Caritas’ activities, a focused operational office has been established in Port Sudan with their Sudanese team, offering heightened security compared to the conditions in Khartoum. Caritas is also working in other areas of the country such as Golo, situated in the elevated mountains of Central Darfur. Golo has evolved into a place of relative security in the country, offering refuge for those compelled to leave their homes.
“Since the conflict erupted, each day has been very different. Thousands of newly displaced individuals have sought refuge here. Golo is safe and relatively calm, so Caritas and other humanitarian organisations moved here. This area has been established as a haven for people who flee from other areas of Sudan where the conflict is dire. Each day, we receive new arrivals; most of them are children and women exhausted by the journey made on foot or by lorry,” says Mujtaba, CRS Golo Office Coordinator.
“Every time I make a decision, I try to keep the poor and vulnerable at the centre of that decision. What motivates me every morning is the belief that we can have a world where all people can experience justice and dignity. No matter what challenges I might face during the day, I can fall back on that belief and know that our work is critical in achieving a world free of poverty,” Mujtaba says.
Catholic Relief Services, a member of Caritas Internationalis, has been active in Sudan since 2004, committed to assisting families and communities in rebuilding their lives. CRS maintains an unwavering focus on long-term development and resilience programmes while responding flexibly to emergent crisis needs.