I am deeply concerned about the violence which has accompanied recent protests in Sudan, including credible reports of the use of live fire by the Government of Sudan and of multiple deaths.
Demonstrations, triggered by spiralling costs of living, began in the city of Atbara in the north east of the country on 19 December last year, spreading to over twenty towns and cities. While initially the protests were against the worsening economic situation, they quickly developed into calls for President Omar al-Bashir’s resignation.
President Omar al-Bashir reacted by closing schools and declaring a state of emergency in some regions. Sudanese police have used tear gas and live ammunition in an attempt to disperse crowds. It is reported that almost 1,000 people have been arrested across the country since protests began. The Sudanese Government has said that 30 people have been killed during demonstrations, while Sudanese activists and medical workers say that the number killed is at least 45. The use of live fire and arbitrary detention cannot be justified.
Ireland fully supports the EU's 24 December 2018 call on the Government of Sudan to exercise restraint, respect the right to peaceful protest and ensure that all law enforcement and security bodies act under its direct control and in accordance with Sudan's constitutional and international commitments. Ireland also stands fully behind the EU statement of 11 January 2019 which calls on the Government of Sudan to release all journalists, members of the opposition, human rights defenders and other protesters arbitrarily detained, and to guarantee the independence of the Investigation Committee tasked with the investigation of abuses. The Embassy of Ireland in Nairobi, which is accredited to Sudan, continues to monitor the situation closely in cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union in Khartoum.
In addition to the current unrest, Sudan continues to suffer from a range of humanitarian crises, driven by protracted conflicts, inequality and climate change. These feed into the popular disaffection leading to protests. This humanitarian situation has been further exacerbated by the economic crisis in 2018, leading to severe levels of food insecurity and malnutrition across the country. More than 1.8 million people are internally displaced and Sudan hosts a further 1.2 million refugees that have fled conflict in neighbouring countries, the majority of whom rely on humanitarian aid for their survival. As a result, an estimated 5.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Sudan this year, including 2.6 million children. Ireland is responding to these crises, with almost €26 million in direct humanitarian assistance to Sudan through our UN, NGO and Red Cross partners since 2012.