NAIROBI = Kenya’s President William Ruto, also the chairman of the IGAD Quartet Group of Countries on the roadmap to peace in Sudan, has asked the warring generals in Khartoum to allow humanitarian agencies to operate freely.
Speaking Tuesday when he met UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, President Ruto said the agencies are helping to alleviate the suffering caused by the conflict and their work should proceed unimpeded.
Grandi briefed the President on the humanitarian and refugee crisis in Sudan.
Through the Communique of the 14 Ordinary IGAD Summit, regional leaders directed the Quartet to secure a commitment from the leadership of Sudan Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces to establish a humanitarian corridor in two weeks. and initiate an inclusive process towards a political settlement of the conflict in three weeks.
On Monday June 19, the World Food Programme in Egypt said it had opened a humanitarian corridor between Aswan in Upper Egypt, and Wadi Halfa in Sudan through the help of the Egyptian government to address the urgent needs of people affected by the ongoing conflict.
“The first cross-border movement took place on 16 June carrying 50 metric tons of essential food assistance from Egypt to Sudan. The assistance will help to alleviate the suffering of thousands of people who have become highly vulnerable due to the conflict,” WFP said in a statement.
The establishment of the humanitarian corridor is led by WFP, in partnership with Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the corridor acts as a passageway for WFP, UN agencies, development organizations, and humanitarian partners.
However, Grandi told President Ruto that the situation has escalated and the number of refugees fleeing the war is expected to hit the 2 million mark.
“The huge number of refugees at the borders of Egypt and Chad have led to a lot of suffering. The saddest part is that the humanitarian staff are not respected and the UNHCR office in Khartoum has been destroyed,” Grandi said at State House Nairobi.
The President said they were working to end to the crisis, despite his rejection as the IGAD lead mediator by Abdel al-Burhan, the Sudanese army general who is the de facto ruler of Sudan.
President Ruto was named the chairman of the quartet at the 14th Ordinary Summit.
Earlier on Monday, June 19, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alfred Mutua chaired a ministerial meeting of the IGAD Quartet made up of Kenya, Djibouti, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
The Foreign ministers who attended were Mahamoud Ali Youssouf (Djibouti and Chair of the IGAD Council of Ministers) Demeke Mekonnen Hassen (Ethiopia) and Deng Dau Deng (South Sudan). Also present were IGAD Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu and African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Amb Bankole Adeoye.
Mutua in a statement said the IGAD process for bringing stability, peace and democracy to Sudan begun with a firm commitment to implement the process arrived at during the Heads of States meeting in Djibouti.
“We discussed how to support the process of our Heads of State to hold a face-to-face meeting with the two leaders [Burhan and Gen Hamdan Dagalo of the RSF] involved in the ongoing violence in Addis Ababa or agreed location.
“We also set up a process for an inclusive Sudan peace and democracy initiative to be held in Nairobi either by mid-July or latest August 1st, 2023,” Mutua said.
In a clear indication the team will proceed despite Burhan’s protestations, the ministers in the communique said they had agreed to “faithfully implement the decision of the leaders in the 14th Ordinary Assembly of the IGAD Heads of State and Government IGAD-led process as elaborated in the IGAD Roadmap for peace in the Republic of Sudan presented to the IGAD Heads of State and Government”.
The ministers said they will work in close coordination and collaboration with the African Union and Sudanese parties and stakeholders in a manner that upholds the principle of subsidiarity and to ensure Sudanese-ownership and leadership of the peace process. They will also facilitate the participation of the African Union in all meetings and deliberations of the IGAD Quartet group of countries.
They further agreed to designate officials to coordinate the IGAD Quartet group of countries work and provide technical and advisory support, as well as appoint an IGAD Special Envoy for Sudan to coordinate and lead mediation efforts.