Sudan: Humanitarian needs soar one month on; SRCS & ICRC welcome parties’ public commitment to adhere to international humanitarian law

Sudan: Humanitarian needs soar one month on; SRCS & ICRC welcome parties’ public commitment to adhere to international humanitarian law

Geneva (ICRC) – Nearly one month since intense fighting broke out in Sudan, the humanitarian situation is quickly deteriorating. Civilians trapped in Khartoum are facing serious food and water shortages, as are hundreds of thousands of people who fled their homes. Many people don’t know what happened to their loved ones. The few functioning hospitals are running critically low on essential supplies, and many dead bodies are yet to be collected and identified.
News release 12 May 2023 Sudan

At the same time, relentless fighting and widespread insecurity have made it extremely challenging to rapidly deliver emergency assistance. Given that, the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) welcome the Jeddah declaration, in which the parties to the conflict reaffirmed their commitment to adhere to international humanitarian law and facilitate humanitarian action. Transforming this pledge into concrete actions on the ground is urgently needed.

“This past month has been a nightmare for people in Sudan, who saw their neighborhoods ravaged by fighting and now face incredible hardship. As a humanitarian worker, I am frustrated to see such suffering and not be able to provide aid at the scale and speed needed,” said Alfonso Verdu Perez, the head of the ICRC delegation in Sudan. “We hope the agreement reached in Jeddah will improve the security situation, enabling us to scale up our emergency response. Facilitating humanitarian work is an obligation under international humanitarian law as well as a matter of life or death. The urgency grows each day.”


The rules of international humanitarian law govern access to victims of armed conflict, which should be facilitated by all parties. The ICRC has been in contact with all stakeholders to request security guarantees needed to deliver emergency medical supplies from its warehouses to hospitals and to help repair critical civilian infrastructure like power and water plants. To date, the ICRC has been able to make donations to three hospitals and provide body bags for Sudanese Red Crescent Society volunteers engaged in collecting mortal remains. However, much urgent humanitarian work remains, including visiting detainees on both sides and re-establishing contact for family members who became separated while fleeing Khartoum or Darfur.

Despite the growing needs, the necessary security conditions have been lacking for the ICRC, the SRCS and other Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners to conduct the emergency response operation at the scale needed to assist and protect people affected by conflict and violence, as reports of direct threats and attacks against medical and humanitarian personnel, including SRCS volunteers, emerged.

“Adherence to the principles stipulated in this agreement, as well as a streamlining of administrative processes, will save human lives,” Mr Verdu Perez said. “We continue doing everything possible to deliver and call on everyone to facilitate humanitarian work. More lives can be saved.” 

Notes to editors:

The ICRC has been present in Sudan since 1978 helping people affected by the conflict in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. The ICRC’s work today, independently or in cooperation the Sudanese Red Crescent Society, includes supporting hospitals and health facilities with equipment and supplies, working with local water authorities on improving people’s access to clean water and supporting the authorities in providing rehabilitation services for people with disabilities.                                             

Media contacts:
Germain Mwehu, ICRC Khartoum,
tel : +249 91 215 0735,
Jessica Moussan, ICRC Dubai,
tel: +971 50 425 4091, 
Alyona Synenko, ICRC Nairobi,
tel: +254 716 897 265,