May 29, 2024

The deteriorating situation in Sudan creates fragile region

The situation in Sudan has created hunger, negatively impacting an already vulnerable region.

In eastern Chad, WFP distributes food to new arrivals from Sudan. Photo: WFP/Jacques David

In spite of exponentially increasing funding requirements, the WFP is setting its sights on providing assistance to countless individuals who have been affected by conflict.

ibrahim Konate in Sudan 

The conflict in Sudan has resulted in a ripple effect of hunger, negatively impacting an already vulnerable region. Many individuals are seeking refuge in neighboring countries, exacerbating the already alarming levels of malnutrition and food insecurity. The situation is placing a great strain on the limited resources of the World Food Programme and other humanitarian organizations.

Notwithstanding, WFP intends to provide food aid to almost six million individuals who have been severely impacted by the conflict in Sudan. It is crucial that our actions are prompt in light of the approaching rainy season and the possibility of decreased food production in Sudan’s main agricultural area.

According to Michael Dunford, the Regional Director for Eastern Africa for WFP, the humanitarian requirements in Eastern Africa were enormous already, extending beyond the conflict in Sudan, because of various disasters such as drought, floods, battles, and financial crises that have affected neighboring nations recently.

He remarks that over one million individuals have been forced to leave their homes in Sudan and several others have migrated to neighboring nations that are already grappling with severe food shortages. This further enhances the requirements and generates a possibility of greater disturbance within the area.

WFP has provided food assistance to over 750,000 individuals across Sudan, including those residing in Khartoum, since the onset of the disturbances in mid-April within the northeastern African nation. In nearby nations, numerous individuals who have been displaced due to the conflict are also being aided by the WFP through provisions of nourishing meals, supplements, and financial aid.

According to Karim Abdelmoneim, head of WFP Sudan Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping, before the conflict erupted, the food security situation in Sudan was already severe. WFP’s earlier research had revealed that over one-third of the population in the country was experiencing food insecurity.

It is anticipated that the chaos will lead to an additional 2.5 million individuals suffering from hunger, resulting in a staggering record of 19 million people, which accounts for 40% of the nation’s populace.

The prevalence of starvation is expanding in other regions as well. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), over 425,000 individuals have been displaced from Sudan and have sought refuge in neighboring countries such as South Sudan, Chad, and Egypt. The United Nations anticipates that the number of people leaving the country may increase by up to a million within the next six months.

We were forced to flee as they committed killings.

WFP aid has been provided to over 100,000 individuals who are considered the most vulnerable newcomers in Chad, including those who are Chadian citizens returning to their home country. Chad is currently home to the biggest group of refugees from West and Central Africa, a majority of whom are Sudanese nationals who had to escape conflicts in their country of origin.

According to Sudanese refugee, Fanne Mahamat Abdel Kadhir, there is a lack of knowledge about the current situation in Sudan. After facing turmoil caused by a local group, she recently arrived in Chad just a few days ago.

Fanne revealed that people were being killed in various locations, leading to their decision to evacuate.

In Egypt, an estimated 160,000 individuals have arrived from Sudan and the World Food Programme (WFP) is supplying thousands with emergency financial aid and food assistance, including easily accessible meals.

In South Sudan, the majority of the almost 100,000 new arrivals are returning South Sudanese citizens.  WFP and its collaborators have made significant efforts to accommodate their requirements for food, nutrition, hygiene, and housing.

On a daily basis, approximately 5,000 individuals are being provided with nutritious meals and support from the WFP in the primary transportation hub of Renk located in the Upper Nile State of South Sudan amidst dusty conditions. The UN Humanitarian Air Service, managed by WFP, has increased its flights from Juba to Renk to four times a week in order to provide faster access to new arrivals for our organization and UN partners.

Gabriel Jackok, a South Sudanese man in a striped T-shirt, remembers how the booming sounds of artillery frightened the children while they were taking shelter in Sudan’s conflict-stricken capital.
There were shortages of essential resources such as electricity, water, and food.

On a recent trip to South Sudan, Dunford, the Regional Director of WFP, witnessed individuals walking for a duration of four to five days from Khartoum to reach the South Sudanese border. Once across, they enter a country where hunger is just as prevalent.

According to him, the WFP is providing assistance to over 5 million individuals in South Sudan. The influx of several thousand additional individuals from Sudan is exacerbating our current resource constraints.

Sudan’s agricultural hub is facing tough times.

The situation in Sudan regarding hunger has worsened due to various factors such as inter- communal conflicts, economic downturn, high food costs, and adverse climate conditions.

Up to this point, the WFP has provided food aid to over 500,000 individuals in 13 out of Sudan’s 18 provinces, which includes a significant number of people located in Khartoum. Persistent assaults on the facilities of WFP by armed factions, some of whom engage in the plunder of food and other humanitarian properties, are markedly impeding the agency’s capacity to offer essential aid to at-risk individuals in Sudan and elsewhere.

The arrival of the rainy season in this area and adjacent nations like Chad is highly likely, posing a challenge to deliver food supplies to areas that have been significantly affected, rendering it unfeasible or extremely arduous.

It is just as concerning that the disturbance is hindering the progress made by organizations such as WFP to develop self-sustaining agriculture and food production in Sudan. This setback is particularly evident in Gezira State, which is known for cultivating staple crops like wheat and sorghum.

According to Abdelmoneim from the WFP, Khartoum has been the primary destination for Gezira’s goods, and is also a crucial hub for transporting essential imports such as food and fuel to Medani, the capital of Gezira.

Nowadays, the agricultural center has turned into a sanctuary for a significant number of uprooted individuals, including Abdelmoneim, who, like numerous individuals from WFP Sudan’s staff, has been relocated. Around one week following the eruption of conflict, he departed from Khartoum in the company of his family.

“My kids were traumatized and stressed out by the continued sounds of shelling,” he recalls.

Sudan’s farmers are also stressed, for other reasons. Those in Gezira State, especially, now wonder what comes next.

“The growing season is imminent, in July,” says Abdelmoneim. “But most of the smallholder farmers don’t know where they can access inputs – such as seeds and fertilizers – and credit.”