The United Nations launched an urgent appeal on Wednesday, urging the international community not to overlook the millions suffering in war-torn Sudan. They requested $4.1bn in aid to prevent famine and assist refugees who fled to neighbouring countries.
“Half of Sudan’s population, a staggering 25 million people, desperately need humanitarian assistance,” declared Martin Griffiths, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, at a press conference in Geneva. He stressed the plight of children, highlighting that 18 million face acute food insecurity, making this one of the world’s largest displacement and protection crises.
The appeal consists of two parts: the $2.7bn Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan, targeting 14.7 million within Sudan, and the $1.4bn Regional Refugee Response Plan, aiming to assist 2.7 million refugees in five surrounding countries. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) will lead the response in Sudan, while the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) will coordinate the regional efforts.
Escalating Conflict Fuels Fears of Famine:
The intensifying conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has reached critical regions like Gezira state, the nation’s breadbasket, raising grave concerns of famine.
“If we witness famine in Sudan again, on top of the violence, displacement, and bleak political outlook, then I believe we’ve lost all humanity,” stated Griffiths with urgency.
Recent assessments paint a grim picture: two-thirds of Sudanese lack access to healthcare, and approximately 19 million children are out of school. Since the conflict erupted last April, over 13,000 lives have tragically been lost, and more than 10 million people have been displaced from their homes.
Crisis Spills Beyond Borders:
UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi, drawing upon his recent interactions with displaced families in Sudan and Ethiopia, warned of the regional repercussions if the crisis is neglected. He emphasized that refugees who fled Sudan are now aiming for further escape routes, targeting Libya, Tunisia, and eventually Europe.
“I have explicitly warned European countries that continued disregard for this crisis will trigger secondary movements of refugees,” Grandi warned.
He went on to describe how the conflict has heavily impacted Sudan’s middle class, upending the lives of ordinary people overnight.
Returning Home: A Wary Hope:
While expressing a longing to return home and rebuild their lives, refugees remain cautious, according to the High Commissioner for Refugees. “When you ask them if they’d return with a ceasefire, they hesitate, seeking assurances of genuine peace and protection from further militia violence,” he explained.
Grandi concluded with a powerful message directed towards the warring factions: “You’re losing your own people. What purpose does fighting serve without a population to govern?”