Interview with Rachel Hirons Sudan Country Director

Question: Can you explain and give a brief intro on the current situation in Sudan?

Rachel Hirons: “So, the current situation in Sudan is that war has broken out between two military factions and it’s really causing a huge burden on the people of Sudan and on our teams.

We are working on a mapping initiative to ensure that INGOs are serving people most effectively, and that we are covering gaps but not overlapping in our services. And most importantly we have our national staff on the ground. These are people with a deep passion to serve people in need, and deep expertise in the services we provide.

The security situation is really changing right now. So, it’s important for our team to be aware and liaise with other organizations to make sure that they’re going into areas that are safe enough to continue programming without putting their own lives at risk. But they are committed to serving people most in need. So, they are balancing needs for safety and security for themselves with understanding that there are people desperately in need of resources that we provide.

This crisis in Sudan is going to cause an influx of refugees in other countries. And we will see an increase of people in need in South Sudan and surrounding countries. … In South Sudan our teams will have increased pressure put on them to serve more people. These people are coming across the border with just what they can carry with them, and that’s not going to last very long. They are going to have to find places to live, food, water, (safe water!), and all other things to settle in securely in these new locations. Medair team in South Sudan has a long history of serving people in refugee camps, and they are ready to step up as well.”



Question: “What are some of the humanitarian needs? How have these needs been growing because of the current conflict?

Rachel Hirons: “In Sudan, there’s an interesting and unique combination of different groups that are really struggling and this war has really exacerbated that. There are refugees from other countries. There are people that are returning from other countries who have been previously refugees and now are looking to settle back into their homes. There are host communities in need, and then there’s now internally displaced people. The internally displaced people have now really increased as people are fleeing from war in different locations. In particular, in Khartoum, a lot of people are leaving and trying to get out to safer places, and that means that they’re leaving with what they can carry on their backs and in their vehicles. But there is really a shortage of food and water at this point. Fuel is hard to come by, so it limits people’s ability to flee to safe places, and prices and costs are increasing dramatically.

So, we’re seeing that people are not able to get the food they need or the water that they need, and they are really struggling to survive. We are also trying to make [salary] payments to our team. That’s been a struggle as well. And that means that our teams and their families are less able to provide support for themselves.”



Question: Is Medair planning to stay in the country and adapt its activities?

Rachel Hirons: “Our team has been operating throughout this period. They are continuing to support people in remote communities, and people in more central locations. And we expect that we will be able to expand accordingly in response to the increased needs.

Our teams are still working hard in the field and going to the locations where they’re serving people in need. These are people who need health care and nutrition, especially women and children. Our services are particularly targeting children under five and pregnant and lactating mothers. These are people who are particularly susceptible to the situation that war brings, where they are very much impacted by the loss of food, access to income, and resources.

We also provide health care services to make sure that they are able to thrive in situations where they’re facing malaria, diarrhea, and other conditions that can really compromise their health. So our goal is to continue our operations. Our team has been continuing this whole time to serve people in need, and we’re very proud of the people that are doing the work for these people in those locations.”

Medair has been present in Sudan for fifteen years, responding to the urgent needs of displaced and host communities across remote and underserved areas