Sudan humanitarian crisis set to worsen, warns UN - GulfToday

Sudan humanitarian crisis set to worsen, warns UN


Sudanese children suffering from malnutrition are treated at an MSF clinic in Metche Camp, Chad. File/AP

The United Nations (UN) warned on Friday that the humanitarian crisis triggered by the conflict in Sudan is set to worsen dramatically in the coming months and could tip some regions into famine.

The emergency could also further spill into neighbouring African countries unless the fighting ends, UN agencies said, ahead of Monday’s first anniversary of the conflict erupting.

“Time is running out,” said World Health Organization spokesman Christian Lindmeier.

“Without a stop to the fighting and unhindered access for the delivery of humanitarian aid, Sudan’s crisis will dramatically worsen in the months to come and could impact the whole region” in terms of more refugees, the spread of disease and food insecurity, he told reporters in Geneva.

“We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg, and the situation could be much more dire in reality.”

Fighting in Sudan broke out on April 15 last year between the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

The conflict has killed thousands and sparked a humanitarian disaster.

More than 8.5 million people have fled their homes, with nearly 1.8 million escaping across the country’s borders.

The WHO warned of a collapsing health system, with acute shortages of staff, medicines, vaccines, equipment and supplies.

Lindmeier said 70 to 80 percent of Sudanese health facilities were not functioning due to the fighting.

The UN health agency said medical supplies were at an estimated 25 percent of the needs.

“Some states, such as Darfur, have not received medical supplies for the past year,” Lindmeier said.

The UN Development Programme and the International Food Policy Research Institute released a report following a survey of 4,504 rural households in Sudan between November and January.

Thair Shraideh, the UNDP resident representative in Sudan, said the country -- where two-thirds live in rural areas -- was plunging into “an accelerating food security crisis.”

“The study warns that a famine in Sudan is expected in 2024, particularly in the states of Khartoum, Al-Jazira, and in the Darfur and Kordofan regions,” he said, via video-link from Brussels.

He pointed to production and supply chains having been disrupted, but also to dwindling incomes and soaring inflation.

Even immediate humanitarian and food assistance “may not be enough to stave off the looming famine,” Shraideh warned.

Meanwhile, the United States pleaded on Thursday for the world to care more about Sudan nearly a year into its brutal war and voiced hope for a resumption soon of peace talks.

“As communities barrel toward famine, as cholera and measles spread, as violence continues to claim countless lives, the world has largely remained silent,” said the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

“That must change -- and it has to change now. The international community must give more, it must do more and it has to care more,” she told reporters in Washington.

Thomas-Greenfield regretted that just five percent of a UN humanitarian appeal on Sudan had been met, forcing cutbacks in assistance for refugees.

She said the United States will be “significantly increasing” funding in coming days.

Tom Perriello, the US special envoy for Sudan, voiced hope to use the “momentum” from the Paris conference to start new talks between the two sides.

Perriello said that Saudi Arabia had committed to a new round of talks and that the United States hoped to announce the date soon.

“While many, many signs point to the war getting even worse, in some ways, it’s gotten so bad and it’s starting to have such regional implications that it’s also increased, I think, some of the diplomatic appetite to try to find an end to this war,” Perriello said.

“We’re going to try to use every lever we have,” he said.

An international humanitarian conference for Sudan and its neighbours will be held in Paris on Monday.

Agence France-Presse


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