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UN says half of Sudan population needs humanitarian aid

May 17, 2024 at 2:42 pm

Sudanese refugees fleeing war receive aid and shelter across border on September 20, 2023 [Abdulmonam Eassa/Getty Images]

The UN humanitarian office said, on Friday, that half of Sudan’s population needs aid as famine and disease outbreaks are “closing in”, Anadolu Agency reports.

Fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces began in April 2023. More than 15,000 people have since been killed and many more displaced.

A central cause of tension was the integration of the RSF into the armed forces.

“In Sudan, half of the population, 25 million people, need humanitarian aid. Famine is closing in. Diseases are closing in. The fighting is closing in on civilians, especially in Darfur,” said Jens Laerke, the spokesperson for the UN humanitarian office, at a UN briefing in Geneva.

Laerke said the overall response plan aims to reach and support 15 million of the worst affected people but, collectively, OCHA asked for $2.7 billion, and so far it has received only 12 per cent of that.

“This is not just an underfunded appeal; it is a catastrophically underfunded appeal,” he said, and warned: “Without more resources coming in fast, humanitarian organisations won’t be able to scale up in time to stave off famine and prevent further deprivation.”

READ: Residents cower as fighting picks up in Sudan El-Fasher

“We urgently need support to bring in more food, health services, shelter, water and sanitation, but also for prevention of sexual and gender-based violence, help to the victims, and support for the re-opening of schools for out-of -school children,” he added.

Two-thirds of Sudan experiencing multiple disease outbreaks

The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Sudan told the briefing that disease outbreaks such as cholera, measles, dengue fever and malaria are spreading in Sudan while people are facing a lack of access to basic needs.

“Currently, two-thirds of Sudan’s 18 states are experiencing multiple outbreaks,” said Shible Sahbani.

With the approaching rainy season, this risk will be even “more exacerbated” as people living in makeshift shelters will be more exposed to the elements, Sahbani warned.

“On top of that, famine is looming, especially in parts of Darfur and in Khartoum, with more than one-third of the population facing acute hunger,” he said, adding that the number of under-five children and pregnant and breastfeeding women suffering from acute malnutrition has increased by 22 per cent from 3.9 million people in 2023 to 4.9 million people this year.

UN Human Rights chief ‘horrified’ by escalating violence in Darfur

The UN Human Rights office’s spokesperson said the Rights chief, Volker Turk, is “horrified” by the escalating violence in El-Fasher, in Darfur, where hostilities between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces are having a “deeply devastating toll” on civilians.

At least 58 civilians are reported to have been killed and 213 others injured in El-Fasher since fighting dramatically escalated in the North Darfur town last week, Ravina Shamdasani said.

She added that Turk warned both sides that “fighting in El-Fasher, where more than 1.8 million residents and internally displaced people are currently encircled and at imminent risk of famine, would have a catastrophic impact on civilians, and would deepen inter-communal conflict with disastrous humanitarian consequences.”

He also urged them to redouble efforts towards reaching a negotiated solution, he said.

READ: Conflicts drive new record of 75.9m people living in internal displacement