In April, fighting broke out between the Sudanese Army (SAF) and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan. The conflict has had enormous humanitarian consequences, including driving 6,9 million people from their homes. Photo: United Nations photo. Source: Flickr.


Eight months of conflict in Sudan: "An unimaginable humanitarian crisis"

In conjunction with fighting in Sudan, an acute humanitarian disaster has developed in the country, where millions of Sudanese are fighting for their survival. Conflicts has led to over 12 deaths and driven 000 million people from their homes. The health care system is on the verge of collapse, and there are acute water and food shortages in the country. But despite the urgent situation, international support has not met the needs.  

Sudan is in the midst of an acute humanitarian disaster. With fighting around the country, millions of civilians are in dire conditions and shortages of necessities such as water, food and medicine are increasing. Eight months after the start of the conflict, the situation has significantly deteriorated for the Sudanese population - and people in the country are in need of urgent interventions.

- Away from the world's eyes and news headlines, the conflict in Sudan continues to rage. Across the country, an unimaginable humanitarian crisis is unfolding, as more and more people are displaced by the relentless fighting, says Dominique Hyde, Director of External Relations at the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Conflict between the army and paramilitary group

The April 15, 2023 fighting broke out between the Sudanese Army (SAF) and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the country's capital, Khartoum. The battles erupted after months of tension between the groups. A negotiation about a reorganization of the security forces in a new transitional government was the starting point for the conflict. The groups, which worked together to oust Sudan's transitional government in October 2021, now stood in opposition to each other.

The conflict spread from Khartoum to other parts of the country, including cities in the Darfur region of western Sudan - which has long been affected by armed conflict. Some of the actions the groups have carried out are war crimes, according to international law. Among other things have several reports revealed that the paramilitary group RSF has committed mass rape and ethnic cleansing.

- Every day civilians are killed and displaced in Sudan as the conflict continues to rage; countless lives have been needlessly destroyed in the past six months, says Tigere Chagutah, Regional Director at Amnesty International East and South Africa.

Even before the conflict between the SAF and the RSF, Sudan was struggling with a humanitarian crisis, economic and political instability and widespread poverty. These challenges have been further exacerbated by the ongoing conflict.

People are driven from their homes

Between April and November 2023, around 12 deaths linked to the conflict have been reported, according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and around 6,9 one million people have been forced to leave their homes. The majority, 5,4 one million people, have been displaced within the country's borders, making Sudan the country in the world with the highest percentage of internally displaced people. Meanwhile, others have sought refuge in neighboring countries such as Chad, Egypt, South Sudan and the Central African Republic in an attempt to escape the ongoing crisis. The massive number of displaced people includes not only those who were already internally displaced from previous conflicts in the country, but also people who fled from other countries to Sudan to seek protection.

Several humanitarian organizations are sounding the alarm that Sudan's healthcare system is approaching total collapse. Many hospitals are out of business, emergency departments are overloaded, and several hospitals have been forced to close completely. In Khartoum witness MSF one of the most intense urban conflicts going on in the world right now. Hospitals are flooded with large numbers of people arriving with life-threatening injuries, forcing medical staff to resort to extreme measures such as amputations.

Healthcare struggling under enormous pressure due to staff shortages, lack of life-saving medicines and equipment. Repeated attacks on hospitals, targeting staff, patients and transport of medical supplies, have created serious obstacles to the provision of health services.

- Without urgent action, the most vulnerable people will continue to bear the brunt of the violence, resulting in more avoidable deaths, says Frauke Ossig, Mission Manager at Médecins Sans Frontières.

At the same time, diseases are spreading at an alarming rate. During the period between May and October this year, approximately 1 people, mainly children, have lost their lives in refugee camps as a result of measles and severe malnutrition. At the same time reported increasing cases of infectious diseases such as cholera and malaria in several states, resulting in several hundred deaths since April. International actors such as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are sounding the alarm about the critical health situation resulting from the ongoing conflict in Sudan. They warn that the situation will worsen unless immediate steps are taken to manage and combat the serious situation.

- The world has the means and the money to prevent every one of these deaths from measles or malnutrition. And yet dozens of children die every day – a result of this devastating conflict and the lack of global attention. We can prevent more deaths, but need money for efforts and above all an end to the fighting, says Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

18 million people in famine

According to UN World Food Program (WFP) almost 18 million people are in acute famine as a result of the ongoing war. Leni Kinzli, spokesperson for WFP in Sudan, compares this figure with the entire population of the Netherlands and highlights that the need for support has more than doubled compared to the previous year. Almost five million people are in a state of emergency in terms of hunger.

Despite the fact that efforts are in place in various areas of Sudan, the response given is far from sufficient to meet the urgent and extensive needs. In a statement emphasizes MSF the importance of an immediate and substantial increase in humanitarian response to mitigate the ongoing crisis. The organization emphasizes that the main needs of the Sudanese civilian population are access to basic necessities such as food, water, medicine and security. 

Several other international humanitarian organizations are sounding the alarm that funding for Sudan and its suffering population should not be withheld. Urgent international intervention is required to ensure that the necessary resources reach those affected and to meet the growing need for support.

- It is also time for the donors to increase their support. The international community cannot abandon the people of Sudan, type Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at OCHA. 

The conflicts in Sudan

In April 2023, fighting broke out in the Sudanese capital Khartoum between the Sudanese Army (SAF) and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF), raising the risk and fears of civil war. The conflict is a power struggle between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (SAF) and Mohamed Hamdan "Hemedti" Dagalo (RSF), both with central roles in the country's ruling General Council following the 2021 coup d'état and the ouster of former president Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan's history of conflict is long-standing and has included foreign invasions, ethnic tensions, religious conflicts and battles over resources. The two civil wars, 1955–1978 and 1983–2005, between the Sudanese government and the southern regions' guerrilla organizations Anyanya (1955–1978) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) (1983–2005) resulted in 1,5 million deaths. The conflict in Darfur in western Sudan began in 2003 and has led to the displacement of two million people from their homes and over 200 deaths. Since Sudan's independence in 000, there have been over 1956 military coups in Sudan and the country has been governed mainly by the military, with intermittent periods of democratic parliamentary rule. 



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