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GOAL’s Sudanese staff continue to deliver life-saving aid in Darfur and South Kordofan, as violence shows no signs of abating in capital Khartoum


April 30, 2023 • 5 min read

GOAL’s international staff, including one Irish citizen, are now safely evacuated.

Since the Sudan conflict erupted, access to shops to buy essential goods has been limited, the cost of any available food and fuel has soared, and banks have closed. As the conflict now enters its third week, challenges to delivering established humanitarian aid programme mount every day. GOAL has been working with conflict-affected people and displaced populations in Sudan since 1985 and with a staff of 260, including 11 international staff, the agency delivers aid services to 2.7M people every year. 30 of GOAL Sudan’s staff live and work in Khartoum and the other 230 work in two remote regions of Sudan: Darfur in the west of the country and South Kordofan in the south.

Speaking from her home in Khartoum, Sara Bashir Mohammed, HR Coordinator, GOAL Sudan said,

“We live very close to the military zone where the fighting continues between the army and the RSF, and we constantly hear gunfire and shelling. We wake up to the sounds of airplane bombings and day by day the clashes are growing closer to residential neighbourhoods”.

“Khartoum is a city with extremely high population density, the neighbourhoods are small, and a lot of friends have reported that the clashes happen right outside their doors. We must put ourselves in great danger to go out and look for essentials and we are trying to pay the salaries of our staff, despite bank closures and the network of online payments solutions being very unstable. Almost all supermarkets and pharmacies are closed and even the ones that are open are running out of stock.”

“At this point, most of my colleagues from our office in Khartoum, with the assistance of our GOAL HQ in Dublin where possible, have fled the city for other states in Sudan to seek refuge. My family is not planning to make the four-day trip to try and get over the border into Egypt. The journey across the border has become impossible with a lack of water, food, and basic facilities. Thousands of Sudanese have been struggling under scorching heat and unbearable conditions for up to a week. We have heard of elderly dying from dehydration whilst waiting at the border. Travelling to other States is a viable option for many once a mode of transport is guaranteed, but then with the increasing pressure of thousands fleeing the capital, accommodation has become an issue. We are just going to hold on and see what happens and I will continue to support my colleagues, in whatever way I can. That is the essence of Sudanese who come together in times of crisis to aid in any way possible,” continued Sara Bashir Mohammed.

Sudan is already home to over 3.71 internally displaced people (IDPs), of which 2.2 million have been displaced for a decade or more. The level of humanitarian need across the country was already at an all-time high, and the conflict now risks displacing thousands of additional people and is limiting GOAL’s access to affected populations in need of life-saving assistance.

Speaking about reports that the prospect of any imminent conflict resolution is remote,  Jessica Cope, CD, GOAL Sudan said,

“The humanitarian situation in Sudan was already dire prior to the conflict, where 15.8 million people, a third of the country’s population, require aid every year. Over one million displaced people require humanitarian assistance, and over four million children, and pregnant and lactating women, are malnourished. We are now facing an unprecedented level of humanitarian need so it is vital that humanitarian organisations have unfettered access to these populations so we can continue providing the lifesaving care they so heavily rely on to survive.”

“Our staff on the ground are striving to continue to deliver life-saving assistance to conflict-affected communities and will do this for as long as it is safe. However, resources are extremely limited. We are also seeing an enormous influx of refugees arrive in South Sudan, the majority of whom are returnees. GOAL Teams in South Sudan are in touch with authorities in Renk, in north-eastern South Sudan, and are monitoring the safety and security situation and the humanitarian impact, should there be a need for an emergency response there. This region is no stranger to conflict and mass displacement, but the scale and severity of this crisis could have long-lasting implications for the region.”

Challenges for GOAL in continuing to deliver its humanitarian aid programmes during the conflict.

  • In North Darfur, GOAL supports 17 clinics with emergency health programmes, and these clinics are still operational where the context permits and where the clinics have been provided with at least one month’s worth of drug stock.
  • In South Kordofan, GOAL supports 30 primary healthcare clinics, including a minimum package of primary healthcare and reproductive health to IDPs, returnees, and vulnerable host populations. These clinics are also continuing to provide services with at least one month’s worth of drug stock.
  • However, if the situation continues to deteriorate, it is possible that the agency will not be able to continue delivering services without the establishment of a safe humanitarian corridor in each region. In South Kordofan, the clinics in Abu Kershola are already experiencing a shortage of most types of medicine and are working with what available medicine they have, as are two health facilities in Dilling that are facing challenges due to the proximity of conflict on the ground.
  • GOAL Sudan is also delivering integrated health and community-based management of acute malnutrition services to people affected by conflict and displacement in seven localities of South Kordofan. The continuation of this project will be dependent on the availability of supplies as the cost of fuel and basic goods skyrockets. GOAL Sudan’s food security programmes for drought-affected populations, its sustainable livelihood programme for long-term IDPs and conflict-affected households, and its Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child Health, and Nutrition (RMNCHN) programme in North Darfur are also expected to be interrupted by the conflict.