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UN Migrants and Refugees

11 months into Sudan war, ‘world’s worst hunger crisis’ looms

The northeast African country is already in the grip of the world’s largest displacement crisis, the UN World Food Programme, WFP, noted

Fighting between the Sudanese Army and a rival group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has left thousands dead and eight million displaced.

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A staggering 14 million children are in desperate need of lifesaving assistance, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also said in a recent alert amid repeated concerns that the conflict may spillover Sudan’s borders, threatening lives and peace in the region, unless the fighting stops. 

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“Twenty years ago, Darfur was the world’s largest hunger crisis, and the world rallied to respond. But today, the people of Sudan have been forgotten. Millions of lives and the peace and stability of an entire region are at stake,” Cindy McCain, Executive Director of the WFP said.

The UN agency chief was speaking from South Sudan, where she met families fleeing violence and the worsening famine situation across the country’s northern neighbour.

Meals out of reach

Today, fewer than one in 20 people in Sudan can afford a full meal, according to WFP. 

Across the war-torn country, 18 million people are acutely food insecure and five million now face starvation. Restricted in their movements by ongoing violence and interference from warring parties and severely underfunded, humanitarian aid workers can barely help those in need, WFP warned.

The UN agency noted that the food crisis isn’t limited to Sudan and affects more than 25 million people in Sudan, South Sudan and Chad. 

The UN agency is unable to provide sufficient emergency food aid to Sudan’s desperate communities. Humanitarian assistance was further disrupted after the authorities revoked permits for cross-border truck convoys, WFP reported, forcing teams to halt operations from Chad to Darfur.

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With nine in 10 people facing hunger in Sudan stranded in areas that are largely inaccessible to humanitarians, WFP issued a renewed and urgent appeal for the fighting to stop and for all aid agencies to be given access to those in need.

Inaction will affect region for years 

The war between General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo’s RSF fighters and General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan’s army has terrified and uprooted millions since 15 April last year.

In South Sudan, where 600,000 people have sought refuge, “one in five children in border transit centres suffers from malnutrition”, WFP reported.

Families arrive in South Sudan after fleeing conflict in Sudan.
© WFP/Hugh Rutherford
Families arrive in South Sudan after fleeing conflict in Sudan.

And although the displaced represent a tiny fraction of the population, recent arrivals in South Sudan account for more than three in 10 of those facing catastrophic levels of hunger.

Chronic underfunding

WFP has struggled to meet the scale of need. The UN agency announced earlier this year that it faces a funding gap of $74 million for the Sudan crisis response, while it plans to reach 4.2 million people in 2024.

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“I met mothers and children who have fled for their lives not once, but multiple times, and now hunger is closing in on them. The consequences of inaction go far beyond a mother unable to feed her child and will shape the region for years to come,” said WFP’s Executive Director.

Link: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2024/03/1147287, dated March 6, 2024 12:00 pm

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