Dominique Hyde: “We should not have to choose between helping a South Sudanese, a Ukrainian or an Afghan” | Future Planet
There are many places in the world that need attention and help. Palestine, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, Venezuela and Myanmar, to name just a few, are just some of the hardest hit corners of the planet, where at least 108.4 million people had to flee in the last year due to a war. , poverty and hunger, persecution for ethnic or religious reasons, or even a natural disaster.
Of all these emergencies, there is one that is especially bloody due to its severity, but also due to its anonymity: the war unleashed seven months ago in Sudan has turned this country into the one with the most forcibly displaced people: up to seven million, of which at least 263,000 have crossed the border into South Sudan, a nation grappling with extreme poverty and trying to shore up a peace that has not yet settled after 10 years of internal conflict.
As director of external relations of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Dominique Isabelle Hyde (Ottawa, 51 years old) visited the South Sudanese city of Renk in early November, the epicenter of refugee arrivals, to which for three In the days that the visit lasted, 10,000 people arrived. From there, and about to leave to make another foray into neighboring Sudan, Ella Hyde affirms that this is the worst human tragedy she has seen in her more than 30-year career.
Ask. There are multiple humanitarian emergencies in the world and, among all of them, you have decided to focus on South Sudan. Because?
Answer. Firstly, it is one of the worst emergencies this part of the world has faced in a long time. And we are seeing that there is no attention. It's not the same kind of response we had after the war in Ukraine, or even in Afghanistan. We are very worried. At this time our global appeal is 40% funded. This means that we are not able to respond to the growing number of refugees and displaced people.
Q. What has left you most impressed?
R. I've been doing this job for 30 years. I have worked for many UN organizations, and I have been surprised by the number of people there are. Yesterday more than 3,000 people crossed the border to enter the country, and this happens daily. At the Renk transit center the capacity limit has long been reached. What I have seen today is a center designed only for a few days that is overcrowded with people and with a truly worrying health situation, especially when we know that there is an outbreak of cholera on the other side of the border, in Sudan. Of course, the teams are doing everything they can, but the challenge is twofold. One is to be able to provide sufficient shelter to these populations, but we do not have the necessary funding, nor do any of the NGOs I have met here or the other UN agencies. The second difficulty is the impact, since mid-August, of not being able to transport people from the transit center to the refugee camps or back to their homes for those who are returned, as the roads have been completely destroyed by the last rains In 60 years, this country has not seen such floods.
I have seen many people with nowhere to sleep, only covered with tarps. They even use their own clothes to have a roof over their heads.
Q. What is most urgent right now?
R. We urgently need to provide shelter; we have to be able to provide it. I have seen many people with nowhere to sleep, only covered with tarps. They even use their own clothes to have a roof over their heads. I would also say water and sanitation. There is not enough water, there is no good sewage system and that facilitates the spread of any infectious disease. And then, obviously, the food. But not only here: once we bring the returned South Sudanese back home, they also need to be able to receive that support.
Q. He mentioned that UNHCR has only raised 40% of the funding necessary to care for the displaced and refugee population. Why has the response been so meager?
R. All organizations tend to receive a lot of funding from the private sector, from individuals like you and me. And this crisis has not aroused interest because it arises from two opposing generals and there is no will to solve it. Also because it is very far from large international donors. We have received great support from the United States, the World Bank and some of the countries that are traditionally more generous. But because there has been such an increase in humanitarian demands and official development aid has not grown, they are having to make very difficult decisions. The war in Sudan occurred right after the earthquake in Syria and Turkey, it happened after Ukraine, which is also taking a lot of resources, and, of course, now with Gaza. But we must remember that these are civilian populations that have nothing to do with this war. And we should not find ourselves in a situation where we have to choose between supporting a South Sudanese, a Sudanese or a Ukrainian or an Afghan.
I do not see that we are having the global solidarity that we have seen with other nationalities with the Sudanese
Q. Do you think the war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on the financing of other emergencies?
R. I would say last year, yes. This year, not so much. There is still a lot of support for Ukraine, and rightly so. What we are saying is that the support we receive for Ukraine is what we should receive for people around the world, for example, with the opening of all countries in Europe and America in terms of employment opportunities for Ukrainians. In Sudan, malnutrition rates are extremely high, we are talking about 12,000 to 13,000 children who have died of hunger. And they are avoidable problems. We know the solutions and it is not an access problem. It is literally a funding problem, that we are not able to support these families. I am also very concerned about cholera and measles, and I do not believe that all these health questions are being answered. In short, in this case I do not see that we are having the global solidarity that we have seen with other nationalities with the Sudanese.
Q. Maybe because we believe it doesn't affect us?
R. It seems that this crisis is very far away. But one of the things we are seeing is an increase in population movements to Europe. And this happens, above all, because when we are not able to help, people (and especially young people) begin to move towards Europe. Of course, there is space in Europe to accommodate many people, but I think that is not what [los migrantes] they want; They prefer to stay with their families. But this is a growing concern and we are seeing it in Lampedusa, and throughout the Mediterranean.
Q. Do you fear that this situation in Sudan and the countries bordering refugees could become chronic?
R. It shouldn't because in this case there is a possible political solution; There are possibilities to end this war and find peace. Therefore, we must remain hopeful that the people I met today can return home and get their lives back. And the sooner we are able to resolve it, the better it will be for everyone affected. However, there are still many unaccompanied children who have lost their parents due to this war, and for them, even if this were resolved tomorrow, their lives have already changed.
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