“The obstacles that block humanitarian access must be immediately overcome” tells ICRC President at the Humanitarian Conference on Sudan and neighboring countries, in Paris


Speech given by Mirjana Spoljaric, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, at the Humanitarian Conference on Sudan and neighboring countries, in Paris.

(Check against delivery)

Excellencies, ministers, colleagues,

A year ago, fighting broke out.

Despite the belligerents’ commitment in the Jeddah Declaration to protect civilians, horrifying accounts of unbridled violence continue today.

In Sudan and neighboring countries, millions of children, women and men struggle to access food, water and healthcare.

Beyond words of commitment, they need immediate action.

Today, I have three urgent calls.

First, comply with the rules, principles and spirit of international humanitarian law.

International humanitarian law provides a clear framework to protect civilian lives and infrastructure and to reduce people’s suffering.

The principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution must govern every military decision in the conduct of hostilities.

Securing a military advantage cannot be pursued regardless of the human cost.

We are determined to pursue our confidential dialogue with all sides and enhance their compliance with international humanitarian law.

Second, protect and fund neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian action. The obstacles that block humanitarian access must be immediately overcome.

The ICRC, together with 4,000 Sudanese Red Crescent Society volunteers, have delivered vital equipment to preserve essential water, livelihood and health services benefiting over 2 million people. We facilitated over 66,000 phone calls between separated family members.

However, humanitarian action is increasingly politicized. Humanitarian personnel are risking their lives.

All sides must facilitate the safe, rapid, and unimpeded passage of humanitarian personnel and goods, into and within Sudan, through all available routes.

States must also address the critical funding gap and sustain their political attention.

Third, support and lean on the ICRC’s neutral intermediary role.

Amidst hostilities, the ICRC can negotiate access and implement crucial humanitarian steps to build trust between all sides and to alleviate suffering.

The ICRC evacuated 300 children and 72 caretakers from an orphanage and facilitated the release of 565 detainees, including 91 minors.

When so many lives are at risk, we are impatient to do more:

  • To visit detainees and ensure they are adequately protected.
  • To expand the provision of our surgical and medical services.
  • To facilitate the humanitarian aspects of any political agreement.

In Jeddah, belligerents agreed that respect for international humanitarian law is the way out of this downward spiral of misery.

Millions of people are anxious to see it implemented.

Thank you.

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