Sudanese General’s Ban on Humanitarian Aid Entry Amounts to War Crime

International agencies and non-governmental organizations complain of bureaucratic obstacles preventing access to Port Sudan, controlled by the Sudanese army

Volker Türk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Friday that the deliberate and apparent obstruction of relief agencies’ safe access to war-torn Sudan could amount to a war crime, as humanitarian reports revealed that tens of tons of humanitarian aid that arrived in the country remain stuck in Port Sudan under the control of the Sovereignty Council Chairman and Sudanese army commander, Abdul Fattah al-Burhan.

Relief supplies are subject to looting, relief workers face attacks, and international agencies and non-governmental organizations complain of bureaucratic obstacles preventing access to Port Sudan, controlled by the army, to deliver humanitarian aid to the country.

Humanitarian organizations have revealed that over 70% of humanitarian aid is detained at Port Sudan port awaiting clearance and transit procedures to various Sudanese areas, including Khartoum, al-Jazirah, Darfur, and Kordofan.

Sudanese army commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan adopts a scorched-earth policy and shows no concern for the humanitarian catastrophe the country is experiencing, ignoring all calls to facilitate the urgent delivery of relief aid.

Last month, Rapid Support Forces commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo ‘Hemeti’ made an urgent appeal to the regional and international community, calling for immediate action to implement urgent humanitarian interventions to save the lives of those affected in the most affected areas, accusing al-Burhan of obstructing aid passage.

Rapid Support Forces have been fighting alongside the Sudanese army since April of last year in a war that has killed thousands and displaced millions within and outside the country, sparking warnings of famine.

Türk said in his address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that Sudan has become a “real nightmare,” adding that “the deliberate prevention, apparently, of relief agencies from safely accessing Sudan without obstacles constitutes a serious violation of international law and may amount to a war crime.”

He continued, “I again call on the warring parties to fulfill their legal obligations by immediately opening humanitarian corridors before more lives are lost.”

An advocacy group for internally displaced persons said on Tuesday that millions in Darfur are at risk of starvation following the government’s decision to ban aid delivery through Chad, effectively closing a vital supply route to the Darfur region controlled by the Rapid Support Forces.

According to the United Nations, half of Sudan’s population, estimated at around 25 million, is in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, while millions have been displaced to the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.

Türk stated, “With more than eight million forced to flee within Sudan and to neighboring countries, this crisis is turning the country upside down and seriously threatening peace, security, and humanitarian conditions across the entire region.”

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