At Least 750,000 on Brink of Starvation and Death in Sudan, Experts Warn

At least 750,000 people are on the brink of starvation and death in Sudan, where a devastating civil war has left over half the country’s 48 million people in a situation of chronic hunger, the global authority on famine said on Thursday.

At least 14 areas across the country are near famine, including some in the capital, Khartoum, according to the latest figures from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, a group of experts from U.N. bodies and major relief agencies that measures hunger and formally declares famine.

The dire update appeared to confirm warnings from aid experts that Sudan is hurtling toward a humanitarian disaster on a scale not seen in decades.

“This is possibly the crisis of a generation,” said Edouard Rodier, Europe director for the Norwegian Refugee Council, who was in western Sudan last week. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

In a report issued on Thursday, the group said that 25.6 million Sudanese, or over half the population, were in a food crisis. Of them, 8.5 million are acutely malnourished or scrambling to survive while 755,000 are in a “catastrophe” — essentially, famine conditions.

When the group, known as the I.P.C., last issued estimates for Sudan in December, the number of people facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity was zero. The latest figures exceed even those of Gaza, where the group said on Tuesday that 495,000 people were in the same situation.

Even so, the group has not formally declared a famine in Sudan, in part because reliable data is hard to obtain. Sudan’s health system is collapsing and aid workers cannot reach the worst-affected areas because of intense fighting and restrictions imposed by the warring parties.

Still, few experts doubt that mass death is already underway, and that the situation is likely to rapidly deteriorate in the coming months. Already in February, a senior U.N. official warned the Security Council that 222,000 Sudanese children could die in the following months.

A more recent study by the Clingendael Institute, a Dutch research group, estimated that up to 2.5 million people could die from hunger-related causes in Sudan by October.

“We may not see a famine declaration, but there’s no question that the starvation crisis is on a scale without parallel for 40 years or more, and is going to kill hundreds of thousands of Sudanese,” Alex de Waal, a famine scholar at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, told The Horn podcast this week.

Since fighting broke out in April 2023 at least nine million Sudanese have been scattered from their homes. As many as 150,000 may have died, the U.S. envoy to Sudan, Tom Perriello, has estimated, although he adds that accurate figures are impossible to obtain.

The areas where the famine threat is highest include the western region of Darfur, where the siege of a major city has brought fears of a massacre; the capital, Khartoum; and the country’s breadbasket in Jazeera State, the I.P.C. said.

“This is the single largest humanitarian crisis on the planet,” Samantha Power, the head of USAID, told reporters on June 14.

Ms. Powers and other American officials have repeatedly accused the war’s belligerents — Sudan’s national military and a powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces — of using starvation as a weapon of war.

Foreign sponsors fueling the fighting have also come under scrutiny, in particular the United Arab Emirates, which backs the Rapid Support Forces, and Iran, which has supplied drones to the military. The Emirates has also donated $100 million in aid to Sudan, a gift it described as its commitment to a “peaceful resolution” of the war.

Yet despite the scale of the unfolding crisis, Sudan’s war has failed to attract the kind of top-level attention that was lavished on the Darfur crisis two decades ago, when Sudan became a major focus for both the White House and celebrities like the movie star George Clooney.

The United Nations says it has received 17 percent of the $2.7 billion it has requested for Sudan.

“World leaders continue to go through the motions, expressing concern over Sudan’s crisis,” said Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, the head of Mercy Corps, a global aid organization. “Yet they’ve failed to rise to the occasion.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *