Banke Sorinwa, Blog Writer

Humanitarian assistance is generally accepted to mean the aid and action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of man-made crises and natural disasters, as well as to prevent and strengthen preparedness for the occurrence of such situations. The need for humanitarian assistance/relief agencies in times of disasters or wars cannot be over-emphasized. However, if they are not supported financially then their duties cannot be performed effectively.

The United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced in Khartoum on January 31 2016 that two international relief agencies have decided to call off their operations and shut down offices in Western Sudan due to lack of funding. “As of January 2016, the International Non Governmental Organisations: Islamic Relief Worldwide(IRW) and INTERSOS closed their offices in West Darfur due to funding constraints,” reads OCHA’s statement on the matter. IRW was providing food, health and sanitation, education, emergency shelter and household supplies and livelihood assistance to El Geneina , Kereink and Beida localities. INTERSOS was working in Habila and Forobaranga localities implementing water sanitation and hygiene as well as peace-building activities. IRW cited its donors as numerous UN agencies and government aid donors. However, in January 2016 the banking group HSBC discontinued its relationship with IRw for fears of its funds ending up funding terrorist groups. From 2015 til today, three organisations have ceased operations (Fellowship for African Relief in May 2015) while a number of humanitarian organisations have cut back on operations – all due to funding constraints.

Despite years of humanitarian assistance, there has been little-to-no improvement in the humanitarian situation in Sudan. The persistent armed conflict in Darfur leads to ongoing displacement and food insecurity for large swaths of the Sudanese population. The conflict continues to spread and has been compounded by increasing instances of crime in the region. Over 2.5 million people were displaced as of the end of 2014.

Despite the unabated need for humanitarian assistance, lack of funding has driven several humanitarian and relief organizations to cease their operations in Sudan. During the last seven months alone, three international organizations stopped their activities in the state due to the lack of funding. The UN office has underscored that a lack of funding has affected their ability to provide the requisite quality and quantity of services needed in all areas of Sudan. In 2015, the UN had made a call of urgency for more financial support to continue its work in the country.

The world today spends around US$ 25 billion to provide life-saving assistance to 125 million people devastated by wars and natural disasters. While this amount is twelve times greater than fifteen years ago, never before has generosity been so insufficient. Over the last years conflicts and natural disasters have led to fast-growing numbers of people in need and a funding gap for humanitarian action of an estimated US$ 15 billion.

Donor Recipient Organization Response Plan/Appeal title USD committed/contributed Original currency unit Decision date Destination Country Donor representative country
Total:     -1,511,063        
INTERSOS Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan Humanitarian Work Plan 2014 -177,382 USD 8-May-2014 Sudan Private (individuals & organisations)
INTERSOS Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan Humanitarian Work Plan 2014 -197,503 USD 8-May-2014 Sudan Private (individuals & organisations)
INTERSOS Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan Humanitarian Work Plan 2014 -241,601 USD 8-May-2014 Sudan Private (individuals & organisations)
Islamic Relief Worldwide Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan Humanitarian Work Plan 2014 -229,100 USD 8-May-2014 Sudan Private (individuals & organisations)
Islamic Relief Worldwide Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan Humanitarian Work Plan 2014 -199,959 USD 8-May-2014 Sudan Private (individuals & organisations)
Islamic Relief Worldwide Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan 2015 -465,518 USD 27-Apr-2015 Sudan Private (individuals & organisations)

Source: Tracking Global Humanitarian Aid Flows- Financial Tracking Service

The table above reveals the increase in humanitarian funding. Despite the increased humanitarian funding, human living conditions are not improving and more people require care.  Of the 6.1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2016 and 4.4 million people are in Darfur. Humanitarian operations are hampered by insecurity, mines and ERW, logistical constraints, and government restrictions.

Canada’s humanitarian assistance to Sudan has focused on children/youth and food security. Canada has also provided support to civil society organizations to promote respect for human rights, gender equality, and people-to-people cooperation. However, with the recent trend of humanitarian agencies leaving the country, it is time for countries to act with more urgency. Timely assistance is required to prevent and stem the ongoing issues of widespread diseases, malnutrition and death in Sudan.

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