Crisis in Sudan
FI New York recently hosted Sharon de Souza, Tyler Balding and Stefan Marx from the Diocese of El Obeid in Sudan. The conflict currently raging in central Sudan has created a humanitarian crisis of such magnitude that it has been described as ‘the next Darfur.’ De Souza, Balding and Marx have been working for the relief of the civilian population caught up in this conflict. They came to the UN in New York to participate in the NGO Working Group on the Security Council. FI was invited to join this Working Group in 2006 and has been active since. Regular meetings provide a platform for NGOs to present firsthand information from the ground and receive updates from Security Council member states.
The extent of the crisis in central Sudan has been revealed by journalist Aidan Hartley in his recent documentary for Channel 4 television in Britain. Hartley visited Gidel Hospital, the only functioning hospital in the conflict zone and a central component of the Diocese of El Obeid’s humanitarian response. The government in Khartoum’s refusal to allow access to any sort of humanitarian aid has made the situation extremely desperate and this hospital has been pushed to its limits.
De Souza, Balding and Marx lobbied at the UN for an effective response from the international community. In particular, the priorities must be to end the ongoing bombing of the Nuba region by the Sudanese military and to grant access to international humanitarian agencies to relieve the suffering of the civilian population. Bishop Macram Max Gassis of El Obeid diocese will be visiting UN head quarters in New York in July.