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Security of 260 staff in Sudan paramount for humanitarian aid agency GOAL as fighting continues


April 18, 2023 • 3 min read

Following the escalation of conflict in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum this week, Irish humanitarian aid organisation GOAL says that ensuring the safety of its 260 staff, including 10 international staff, in Sudan, is its main priority.

The fluid and dangerous conflict between the Sudanese army and a rival paramilitary faction, which broke out last Saturday 15th April, has already resulted in the killing of 200+ people, the wounding of 1,800 people and significant damage to critical infrastructure in Khartoum. GOAL has been working with conflict-affected people in Sudan since 1985 and currently has over 30 staff in their office in Khartoum. The agency also has over 230 field staff in two remote regions of Sudan; Darfur in the west of the country, and South Kordofan in the south.

Paul Westbury, GOAL’s Regional Security Advisor for East Africa, says the intensity of the fighting in Khartoum and other parts of Sudan is putting innocent civilian lives at significant risk.

“This deadly power struggle in Khartoum has seen use of heavy weaponry, bombardments, and air strikes across the city heavy weapons. As a result, we have advised our staff to hibernate and not to leave their homes.”

“Outside of Khartoum, we have 230 staff in Darfur and South Kordofan regions. Those field staff are reporting sporadic fighting and the two factions are clashing there too. Again, our staff there are holding at home or in their offices.”

The agency is communicating with their staff at regular intervals during the day, says Mr Westbury.

“We are in constant contact with GOAL Sudan management and security staff, who are using their channels to pass messages to all staff. We’re advising our staff to stay away from windows, keep low, and stay in the centre of the building where they may be more protected from stray bullets. Staff also receive regular training in operating in hostile environments”.

Jessica Cope, Country Director for GOAL Sudan says that humanitarian programming in the conflict-affected country, which is already impacted by drought, displacement, and hunger, has had to be suspended until it is safe for staff to resume aid operations.

“Unfortunately, we can’t take the risk of our staff being put in situations that put them in danger, so programming has been suspended. The risk here is very real. UN agencies halted all their aid operations last Saturday, after three Sudanese aid workers with the World Food Programme were killed’.

“As this conflict is just beginning, we are continuing to advise our staff to stay where they are, make sure they are safe, and have food, water, and power. When we get an indication that we can safely move people, including our international staff in Sudan, to more secure settings, we will do so as soon as possible.”

GOAL Teams have been operating in Sudan since 1985. GOAL Teams in Sudan support conflict-affected populations through integrated programmes in nutrition, health, WASH, food security and livelihoods. In 2022, GOAL delivered aid programmes to 2.7M people in Sudan, with a programme expenditure of €11.4M.

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