The United Nations says it is working closely with Egyptian authorities to help people arriving at the border escape the ongoing conflict in Sudan, after complaints the international response to the crisis had been lacking.
A UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) employee told Al Jazeera the agency is working with the government, particularly with the Ministry of Health, to provide necessary supplies to people at the border.
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“UNHCR is coordinating an interagency response in collaboration with the government of Egypt. This involves the UNRCO [UN Resident Coordinator’s Office] and UN sister agencies,” the organisation said in a statement.
Other UN agencies present to help the arriving refugees include the United Nations Children’s Fund, International Organization for Migration and World Food Programme.
According to reports, the United States Agency for International Development, also known as USAID, has also been given access to help the arriving refugees.
Since the fighting between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) began on April 15, thousands of Sudanese and others have fled, finding refuge in nearby nations including Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.
According to the UN agencies, supplies being sent to the border include water, food, medicines, wheelchairs and ambulances. The agencies work through the Egyptian Red Crescent to distribute the supplies.
A UN spokesperson in the southern Egyptian city of Aswan said all agencies are working to raise funds for people arriving, in addition to the emergency funds announced by the UN.
On Thursday, the organisation’s Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths announced a $3m aid package from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund for those fleeing Sudan.
Earlier in the week, reports had surfaced that no humanitarian organisations were at the Egypt-Sudan border. Many had hoped such organisations would be available to provide much-needed relief.
People arriving at the border had complained about medical illness following an arduous journey that took hours.
Those who fled reported exhaustion and dehydration amid soaring temperatures, while others said they were in need of immediate life-saving medicines for long-term illnesses.
First shipment of life-saving humanitarian aid arrives in Port #Sudan, for Sudanese hospitals and the Sudan Red Crescent Society volunteers providing medical care to those wounded in the fighting👇 https://t.co/lptncGCxkg
— ICRC (@ICRC) April 30, 2023
Separately on Sunday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced the first shipment of aid from Amman, Jordan had arrived at Port Sudan, the Sudanese port city on the Red Sea.
“After 14th April, no-one has managed to get medical assistance into the country which is badly needed,” Patrick Youssef, ICRC’s regional director for Africa, said in a statement on its website.
“This medical assistance will hopefully travel quite quickly from Port Sudan and be delivered to the hospitals that are in most need and that indeed requires a ceasefire that should be respected by both sides for us to be able … to deliver these items as quickly as we can.”