Sudan war pales in world eyes as fatigue, new problems creep in

Sunday April 14 2024

Drone footage shows birds in the foreground as clouds of black smoke billow over Bahri, also known as Khartoum North, Sudan on May 1, 2023. PHOTO | REUTERS


Sudan’s year-long war has placed fatigue on an international community that is now also burdened by new conflicts, rendering the African country helpless.

And while the problem is largely on the shoulders of warring factions; Sudan Armed Forces (Saf) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), for failing to agree on lasting ceasefire, the international community’s attention has been a trickle.

Participants at Webinar, this week, organised by the Inter Agency Working Group—East and Central Africa, which seeks to coordinate response to humanitarian crises, observed that 18 million Sudanese are unable to meet their basic food needs.

Humanitarian workers warned that Sudan not only faces the world’s largest displacement crisis, but the country also faces the world’s largest internal displacement crisis for children, with nearly 5 million children forcibly displaced.

Read: Why Sudan is still at war a year on

Eatizaz Yousif, Country Director, International Rescue Committee, (IRC) Sudan said that the country is facing the largest displacement and hunger in history with nearly half of the country’s 45 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.


“The war has created education and health disasters with 10 million children dropping out of school, while 75 percent of the health facilities are either destroyed or forced to close at a time when 11 million people need emergency health intervention,” said Ms Yousif on April 9 in a virtual meeting.

Humanitarian agencies who discussed the challenge of delivering aid this week said donors have sort of move on, to Gaza or Ukraine, with just about 30 percent of the needed aid pledged, but not necessarily sent in.

The UN, which has been leading the funding appeal says Sudan needs two key components: a $2.7 billion Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan targeting 14.7 million people within Sudan and another $1.4 billion Regional Refugee Response Plan aimed at assisting 2.7 million people in five neighbouring nations: Chad, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt and Central Africa Republic.

According to the UN, an estimated 8.5 million people have been forcibly displaced, some 1.5 million of them are living in under-resourced, camps in Sudan and neighbouring countries of Chad, Central African Republic, Egypt and South Sudan.

The humanitarian situation is dire as the country is facing famine given that the war has interfered with two planting seasons that often begin in April and May during long rains.

Since the war broke out on April 15, 2023, millions of people have lived through intense fighting, including air strikes, bombing, shooting and assaults.

Read: Why outsiders won't let Sudan enjoy prosperity

Of most concern is the lack of access to basic health services for the millions displaced. A report released on April 8 by medical charity group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) paints a picture of Sudan running out of time to save those who need medical intervention.

According to MSF, looting has been widespread and attacks on individuals, including sexual violence, remain a defining feature of the war.

Pregnant women are particularly affected by the lack of access to healthcare. Over the past year, MSF has assisted more than 8,400 deliveries and performed 1,600 caesarian sections.

“Patients are dying due to violence-related injuries and preventable illnesses; children are perishing due to malnutrition. Vaccines are running out, and there have already been outbreaks of deadly diseases such as cholera and measles,” the MSF situational report read.

Dr Christos Christou, the international President of MSF said that Sudan is one of the worst crises the world has seen for decades.

“There is no doubt that there are enormous challenges in Sudan, but they are not insurmountable. It is possible to respond – and we know this because we are there,” said Dr Christou noting that MSF has 30 health facilities in10 states in Sudan.

They include Khartoum, Al Jazirah, White and Blue Nile, Al Gedaref, West Darfur, North, South and Central Darfur states, Red Sea state and Kassala. These regions have also seen the most teeming masses of the displaced.

In most cases, civilians have been the grass trampled by fighting giants: Saf and RSF. And each of the factions has been undoing the other using humanitarian aid: if you don’t support the cause, you don’t get aid.

Humanitarian agencies admitted some of the aid has been blocked or diverted from intended destination, or even looted to support fighters. Civilians perceived to support enemy faction have been killed, raped, maimed, starved or forced to flee, one report by human rights watchdog Amnesty International showed last week.

In Sudan, the US State Department had already declared war crimes had happened last year, a finding Amnesty International and other rights lobbies agreed.