UNITED NATIONS— A senior U.N. humanitarian official is warning of a “severe humanitarian crisis” in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The official says nearly one million people are in dire need, but out of reach of aid workers, forcing some to rely on roots and leaves for food.
The director of operations for the U.N. humanitarian division, John Ging, says for nearly a year, the United Nations has been seeking access for humanitarian workers into conflict areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
He told the Security Council that first-hand reports from civilians fleeing these areas, and their emaciated condition, supports fears the humanitarian situation is deteriorating.
“We hear incredibly alarming stories about people having to rely on roots and leaves - this is 2013 and to think that tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people are living in such desperate and deplorable circumstances and we can not get in to help them as humanitarian organizations, it is just not acceptable,” said Ging.
The SPLM-North, an offshoot of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, has been fighting the Khartoum government since June 2011. The clashes in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states have displaced hundreds of thousands of people, with many fleeing to South Sudan.
South Sudan denies Sudan's charges it is supporting the rebels.
Ging said he appealed to the U.N. Security Council for help in obtaining the urgently needed access from the government in Khartoum and the SPLM-North rebels.
“We humanitarian organizations are standing by with very large stocks of humanitarian assistance to help these people," he said. "So we have thousands of tons of food, we have the medicines, we have the vaccines for the children, so we are ready to go. We have the logistical capacity in place. All we need is the green light to commence our operations.”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Washington is “deeply concerned” about the continued decline in the humanitarian situation and urged both sides to grant full access. She said while both sides bear blame, it is primarily the fault of Khartoum.
She noted that U.N. envoy for the two Sudans Haile Menkerios stressed to the Council that ultimately, humanitarian access is unlikely to be satisfactorily granted and sustained without a political solution, and she urged both sides to resolve the issues behind the rebellion.