Sudan Conflict Overlooked Even as Humanitarian Crisis Reaches Catastrophic Levels

Violence, severe food shortages, and a lack of basic necessities after eight months of conflict in Sudan have forced 6.3 million people to flee their homes, the majority of whom are women and children, and placed a tremendous strain on neighboring countries.

According to new projections, 17.7 million people across Sudan face high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above), with the worst hunger hotspots in Greater Darfur, Greater Kordofan, and Khartoum. Diseases including cholera, measles, and dengue fever are spreading amid mass displacement and severely compromised healthcare access. In just one month, cholera spread from three to nine of Sudan’s states, resulting in over 5,400 cases and 170 deaths.

“Today’s figures show more than 500,000 Gazans could be in a famine-like condition by February unless something is done to address the situation immediately. It’s beyond unacceptable that we have reached yet another tipping point in Gaza – this time, death by starvation, to add to the thousands killed by airstrikes.”

Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Corps, says:

“The crisis in Sudan is tragically becoming a forgotten war, even as massive displacement, human trafficking, sexual violence, and the forced recruitment of child soldiers are among the many horrors currently being inflicted on civilians.

“Reports of grave human rights violations across Sudan are deeply disturbing, particularly the escalating inter-ethnic violence in Darfur. The UN estimates that approximately 5 million children in Darfur alone are at risk of being ethnically targeted, killed, injured, abused, or exploited due to the unchecked conflict. Given significant underreporting, this figure is likely just the tip of the iceberg. The world cannot stand idly by as the atrocities committed 20 years ago in Darfur threaten to repeat.

“Yet even in the face of rapidly escalating need, severe underfunding is forcing humanitarian organizations to consider reducing assistance when we should be scaling up. Making matters worse, security issues and bureaucratic impediments, including visa delays, travel restrictions, and extended customs processes, continue to obstruct humanitarian access. 

“This crisis demands urgent diplomatic engagement between the eight Member States of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), along with other international and regional partners, the UN, and Sudanese authorities to resolve bureaucratic impediments and establish workable solutions like cross-border access and humanitarian corridors as well as an immediate scale-up of funding from donor countries. Innocent civilians who remain in areas affected by hostilities, especially in Khartoum and Darfur, must be protected at all costs, as well as aid workers. The attack on an International Committee of the Red Cross aid convoy this week in Khartoum that killed two and injured several others was appalling.

“We urge parties to the conflict to implement a ceasefire to end the suffering. Until then, humanitarian aid convoys and personnel must have rapid, protected, and unimpeded passage to guarantee aid and protection for those impacted by the conflict.”

Mercy Corps has worked in Sudan since 2004 to support hundreds of thousands of Sudanese, displaced households, and refugees from neighboring countries. In 2022, Mercy Corps directly reached over 381,400 people through emergency response, water, sanitation and hygiene, peacebuilding, agriculture, and climate adaptation programming.

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