Sudan war threatens ‘world’s largest hunger crisis’: WFP

Warring generals leave at least 25 million people facing food insecurity, with humanitarian response at ‘breaking point’.

The war in Sudan threatens to trigger “the world’s largest hunger crisis”, a United Nations agency has warned.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday that more than 25 million people scattered across Sudan, South Sudan and Chad are “trapped in a spiral” of food insecurity. However, the brutal civil war shows no sign of easing after 10 months of fighting.

The “relentless violence” leaves aid workers unable to access 90 percent of people facing “emergency levels of hunger,” the WFP added.

Concluding a visit to South Sudan, WFP executive director Cindy McCain said: “Millions of lives and the peace and stability of an entire region are at stake.”

Two decades after the world rallied to respond to famine in Sudan’s Darfur state, the people of the country have been “forgotten”, she added.

At crowded transit camps in South Sudan, where almost 600,000 people have fled from Sudan, “families arrive hungry and are met with more hunger,” said the WFP. One in five children crossing the border is malnourished, it added.

Currently, only five percent of Sudan’s population “can afford a square meal a day”, the UN agency reported.

Civilians who fled the war-torn Sudan following the outbreak of fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces
Civilians who fled war-torn Sudan following the outbreak of fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) camp at the UNHCR transit centre in Renk, Renk County of Upper Nile State, South Sudan, on May 1, 2023 [Jok Solomun/Reuters]

‘Breaking point’

Sudan’s civil war between rival government factions erupted in April 2023. Pitching army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan against his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, who now commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the conflict has killed tens of thousands, destroyed infrastructure and crippled Sudan’s economy.

It has also uprooted more than eight million people. With two million forced from their homes before the fighting broke out, Sudan already hosts the world’s largest displacement crisis.

Both the RSF and army have been accused of indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, targeting civilians and obstructing and commandeering essential aid.

The WFP warned that the humanitarian response is at “breaking point” and will remain so unless the violence comes to a halt.

“Ultimately, a cessation of hostilities and lasting peace is the only way to reverse course and prevent catastrophe,” it said.

Offering some small hope, Sudan’s government said in a statement on Wednesday that it has agreed for the first time to take delivery of humanitarian aid via Chad and South Sudan.

The government said that it will specify routes and airports in different regions to receive deliveries of aid.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies