Sudan’s Growing Hunger Crisis

The situation in Sudan is dire as over 18 million people are facing acute hunger, making it a potential contender for the world’s largest hunger crisis.

Unable to Escape Hunger

18 million people in Sudan are suffering from acute hunger – the UN fears the world’s largest hunger crisis. Relief supplies are inadequate or do not reach due to the war. Hundreds of thousands are fleeing. It was 20 years ago that Sudan – specifically the Darfur region in the west of the country – was once again the scene of a massive hunger crisis. Official estimates suggest that 300,000 people died as a result of hunger and disease. More than 2.5 million were displaced by war and genocide.

Now, history threatens to repeat itself in the country. “The people are exhausted, there is no food,” a woman in a refugee camp near the Sudanese capital Khartoum told Reuters news agency. Another Sudanese woman added: “The available food is not enough. We have corn, but we cannot process it.” They lack the money to buy pots or pans. The situation is difficult.

More than 18 Million People Suffer from Hunger

According to the United Nations World Food Programme, more than 18 million people in Sudan are trapped in a “spiral of escalating hunger”. The problem is that the majority of people are in regions that are hardly accessible to aid organizations. According to the UN agency, this is because the warring parties in the ongoing eleven-month civil war prevent aid from reaching the people.

For aid organizations, it is not only dangerous to distribute food in the current war but aid convoys have also been looted by armed groups in the past. And UN reports state that truck convoys currently do not receive permission to travel from neighboring Chad to the adjacent Darfur region in Sudan.

Power Struggle Between Military and Paramilitaries

Behind the war is a power struggle between the Sudanese military and the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The two actors jointly staged a coup against the civilian government over two years ago but promised to relinquish power. An important step towards a transitional government would have been, according to observers, the integration of the RSF into the military. However, the power handover failed, and so the leaders of the two parties plunged the country into war.

To escape violence and destruction, hundreds of thousands have fled to neighboring countries such as Egypt, Chad, or South Sudan. Cindy McCain from the United Nations World Food Programme stated during a visit to one of the refugee camps in South Sudan: “The war in Sudan could soon become the world’s largest hunger crisis. In neighboring South Sudan, I met women and children who have fled violence dozens of times. While they escaped the fighting, they have not escaped hunger.”

Largest Number of Internally Displaced Persons Worldwide

The economy in Sudan has collapsed due to the war. Food and medicine have been scarce for months. Most hospitals in the country reportedly have closed. Not everyone can leave the country.

According to the United Nations, around eight million people have fled within the country since the beginning of the conflict – currently the largest number in a conflict worldwide. Aid organizations continuously emphasize that Sudan must not be forgotten. However, with many other crises around the world, this seems to have partially happened, almost a year after the conflict began.