Civil war-shattered Sudan faces serious mass-famine risk

Sudanese child searching for water Sudanese child searching for water Sara Abubakar on Stockvault

4  July 2024

As recently reported by UN News, the civil war in Sudan can generate the worst food crisis the world has ever recorded.

After fifteen months of fighting, the conflict between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) has spread across much of the national territory, having severe humanitarian repercussions. In fact, in addition to causing over 14,000 direct casualties, in just over a year the hostilities have produced 10,7 million displaced people – 9,1 million of whom are internally displaced (IDP) – creating the largest displacement emergency currently underway in the globe.

Moreover, the intensification of the war is pushing the country to the edge of mass famine. According to the latest report from the United Nations’ Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), more than half of the Sudanese population – 25,6 million people – are experiencing “crisis” level food insecurity, the third level of alert on a five-point scale. According to the report, more than 8,5 million Sudanese are instead in an “emergency” situation, the fourth level of alert, while 755,000 people are even in “catastrophic” conditions.

Experts fear that the situation in Sudan could turn into an unprecedented famine. Estimates indicate that hunger could claim between 500,000 and one million lives during the summer, and there are no signs of improvement. ISPI states that since the conflict broke out – on April, 15th, 2023 – Sudanese cereal production has collapsed while the prices of essential goods have almost doubled, a trend likely to worsen as the conflict has reached Gezira State, the country’s breadbasket. In a statement, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nation International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) e the World Food Program (WFP) emphasized that “for half of the Sudanese population affected by the war, every single day is a battle to feed themselves and their families,” while the IPC warns that if the conflict escalates further, famine will affect no fewer than 14 provinces in the country, including Darfur, both Kordofan regions, Blue Nile, and Khartoum.

Regarding international aid instead, although various organizations – including those just mentioned – have mobilized to collect and send funds and goods, many criticize the insufficiency of these efforts. According to Médecins Sans Frontières, the challenge is not only in securing resources (with a few tens of millions raised against an estimated need of around five billion), but also in ensuring that aid reaches the neediest areas because, despite multiple requests for cooperation from the International Community, both factions tend to obstruct or loot missions for their military purposes. If things do not change, says USAID, data suggests that the Sudanese crisis could become even worse than the Ethiopian famine that shocked the world in the early 1980s.


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By Leonardo Guidi

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