It is with the gravest concern possible that the leadership of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM/A-AW) calls on the UN Security Council, the World Health Organization and UNAMID to take swift action to contain the potential spread of COVID-19 in the refugee and IDP camps throughout Darfur.
Recognizing that the lethal virus has not revealed itself in large numbers throughout the continent of Africa, nor Sudan in particular thus far, is no cause for complacency, where instead the slow response by many developed countries and failure to have taken stronger countermeasures sooner is precisely instructive, in how not to proceed.
In the midst of Sudan’s ongoing economic collapse as a legacy of the departed kleptocratic regime of deposed former President Omar al Bashir, the enduring shortage of all basic goods, scarce sub-standard medical care largely denied to the bulk of the population, widespread woeful humanitarian conditions and incessant violence by state security forces, against the civilian population of Darfur, with the Rapid Support Forces, the former Janjaweed genocidaire militias still prominent as the primary instigators of atrocities, the global media largely ignores, Darfur faces yet another emergency in the making of colossal proportions that must be prevented.
We call on the UN precisely to take swift action because we can have no confidence that the interim government, nominally headed by Prime Minister Hamdok, where the true power in governance is still wielded behind the scenes by the remaining forces of the old order, the unindicted war criminals whom are covered in the blood of Darfur and the ruthless crackdown on pro-democracy protesters last summer. Thus, we are not waiting for Khartoum to save our people, nor living in the fabricated fallacy that Sudan is seamlessly and happily steering towards true civilian-led democracy. Our only hope is the UN.
The travel ban and sealing of borders imposed by the interim Sudanese state authorities is a measure mirroring action by many other states globally but it cannot be considered in a vacuum where Darfur is concerned, and instead, local conditions must not be airbrushed away as if they didn’t exist, just as the UN has capped the death toll of the genocide for more than a decade at three hundred thousand fatalities when the true figure is closer to twice that grisly sum. The nearly four million refugees and Internally Displaced People of Darfur have long endured the direst circumstances on the very edge of human survival that place them at supreme risk from the COVID-19 pandemic that appears likely to engulf much of humanity and ultimately claim potentially as much as one hundred million lives according to scientific prognostication.
Everything about the conditions the uprooted people of Darfur endure in their miserable camps, still subject to random but persistent violence by the RSF and their partner henchmen, makes them a case study for a future massive death toll through the ravages of COVID-19. With scarce potable water, constant food insecurity on the edge of famine, almost no medical support or health care, living in supremely crowded proximity to one another that allows for no social separation, dangerous sanitary conditions and absent sewage facilities, makes the camps a potential death trap for millions. And despite lip service to the contrary, a humanitarian embargo of all life saving and life-sustaining supplies remain in place, first imposed by the fallen dictatorship as a tool of war and subjugation, as access to most humanitarian local and international NGO’s remains barred. For the suffering people of Darfur little has changed, since the advent of the People’s Revolution but now there is a new waking nightmare approaching on the horizon.
Thus with the gravest sense of alarm that cannot be overstated we call on the UN Security Council to pass an emergency measure to lift the humanitarian blockade on Darfur and allow the free flow of humanitarian and medical supplies and free unhindered access to aid and health workers. Moreover, we demand in the name of humanity that UNAMID already reduced to a skeletal force cease its drawdown, abort its intended withdrawal and instead on an emergency basis bolster its troop numbers and ensure the secure flow of life-saving means to the people of Darfur. But we further call upon for even greater extraordinary countermeasures to be undertaken and demand the international community under the banner of the UN resolution to begin emergency delivery by land and air to Darfur of not only the basic survival supplies that are entirely inadequate at present but in far greater quantity not only food, water and medical supplies but also to deploy contingents of medical and engineer troops and their civil counterparts to oversee emergency measures and bolster infrastructure and procedure for effective quarantine and disease prevention. These vital measures must be soon in place in the utmost effort to forestall large scale infection or a staggering new death toll will become inevitable. This heart-wrenching possibility cannot be ignored and inaction will not suffice. We appeal to your sense of compassion, moral duty and ask you do not let Darfur die and call for immediate action this day!
Sincerely, Abdul Wahid al-Nur, Chairman Sudan Liberation Movement and Commander in Chief Sudan Liberation Army
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