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More EU humanitarian flights expected to Sudan following agreement

After sending a first airplane with humanitarian aid, the European Union is now working on more air shipments.
A relief cargo slated for war-ridden Sudan is loaded onto an airplane in Dubai, May 8, 2023.

PARIS – The French foreign ministry welcomed on Friday the Saudi/US-brokered agreement between the fighting parties in Sudan to protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid, recalling that these commitments are legal obligations for all sides under international humanitarian law.

A statement issued by the French foreign ministry called on the parties to commit as soon as possible to a lasting ceasefire, to facilitate the establishment of humanitarian corridors and to ensure the safety of civilians present in the areas of confrontation.

Last Tuesday a first patch of humanitarian aid to Sudan, offered by the European Union, was transported to Port Sudan. The European Union now prepares more flights with emergency assistance to the country.

The Spokesperson's Service (SPP) of the European Commission told Al-Monitor on Friday that the flight to Port Sudan was only the beginning of a humanitarian air bridge operation, with more flights expected in the coming days with a variety of emergency aid. European diplomats are hoping that the Saudi/US-mediated deal for protecting civilians announced Thursday should enable better distribution of the humanitarian aid. 

Tuesday’s flight transported 30 tons of essential items, including water, sanitation material and shelter equipment. The items were transported from United Nations warehouses in Dubai. Upon arrival, they were handed over to agents of UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP), to be distributed in Khartoum and other cities ravaged by the conflict. The first aid transport did not include food. 

"The first flight focused on emergency supplies like shelter and WASH [water, sanitation and hygiene] items. We are in the process of organizing further flights also with other types of aid," a SPP official said. 

Although transporting aid to Sudan is not complicated, finding agents on the ground to receive it and distribute it to the local population efficiently can be difficult.

"Most [of our] humanitarian partners have temporarily suspended their operations in hotspot areas due to security concerns. The safety of our humanitarian staff and of all civilians is currently our primary concern. Partners are ready to resume activities and respond to urgent humanitarian needs once the situation allows," the SPP official added.

Le Monde newspaper reported Friday that at least 18 humanitarian workers have been killed since the violence began in Sudan in mid-April. Only a handful of nongovernmental organizations have resumed their activities in war zones, after suspending them in the first days of the fighting. The WFP said on May 4 that food worth between $13 million and $14 million was looted in Khartoum.

The EU said in a statement on Wednesday that it already allocated €200,000 ($218,000) in relief and first aid to vulnerable populations in Khartoum and other areas impacted by the ongoing violence.

The bloc added that it supports the Sudanese Red Crescent Society in the provision of first aid, evacuation services, and psychosocial support. 

An additional €200,000 was allocated to the Egyptian Red Crescent, it aid, for the provision of support to refugees arriving in Egypt from Sudan.

The statement further noted that this recent funding comes on top of the €73 million ($80 million) already allocated to Sudan in 2023 in humanitarian assistance. The EU has provided Sudan with €600 million ($654,000) in humanitarian aid since 2013, including an increase from €44 million ($48 million) to €73 million since February 2022.

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