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FAO raises alarm on escalating food crisis in Sudan  

Women, pregnant or with young children, wait for appointments at a maternity hospital in Port Sudan (file)..
© UNFPA/Sufian Adbul-Mouty
Women, pregnant or with young children, wait for appointments at a maternity hospital in Port Sudan (file)..

FAO raises alarm on escalating food crisis in Sudan  

Humanitarian Aid

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has issued a grave warning regarding the deepening food crisis in Sudan, as the country grapples with conflict and economic decline.  

FAO said 20.3 million individuals in Sudan face severe hunger, a figure that has nearly doubled since last year.  

Projections indicate that 42 per cent of the population endures high levels of acute food insecurity, exacerbated by disruptions in the market and skyrocketing food prices, which hinder access to essential goods and services.

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According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phases analysis, the common standards for classifying food severity, the situation is critical with 14 million people facing ‘crisis’ and more than six million people, around 13 per cent of the population, are now one step away from famine.

The regions most severely impacted include Khartoum, South and West Kordofan, as well as Central, East, South and West Darfur.  

‘Unimaginable suffering’

Abdulhakim Elwaer, FAO's Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa, said “The conflict has had devastating consequences on the food and nutrition security and well-being of millions of people. Families are facing unimaginable suffering.”

The displacement of over four million people due to ongoing fighting has also resulted in critical infrastructure damage, further exacerbating food insecurity and malnutrition.

FAO warned that insufficient resources continue to impede humanitarian efforts to address the situation.  

Funding shortfall

The UN agency has urgently appealed for an additional $65 million in funding to assist over six million people and support farmers in preparing for the upcoming planting season.  

The UN food agency expressed concern at the the projections for the period from October 2023 to February 2024 - with around 15 million people likely to face a food crisis.  

“It is vital that FAO is stepping in to support more than one million farmers this season to produce enough food for Sudanese people,” said Mr. Elwaer.

Since mid-April, the conflict between Sudan’s armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has caused displacement, death, injury and an unfolding humanitarian crisis. This week, UN agencies confirmed that over four million people have been displaced due to the conflict, the majority of which within Sudan itself.  

The UN humanitarian affairs office,  OCHA, on Wednesday warned that hunger and displacement due to the war are spiraling out of control.

'Heinous acts' in Darfur 

Meanwhile, fighting in Darfur between the RSF, backed by Arab militias and the Sudanese Army is having a severe impact on civilians, the UN Mission in Sudan, UNITAMS, said in a statement on Thursday. 

The mission strongly condemned the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and public facilities by the RSF and allied militias, particularly in the locality of Sirba in West Darfur, from 24 to 26 July. 

UNITMAS also expressed concern over similar incidents in Nyala, South Darfur, and Zalingei, Central Darfur.

“I am alarmed by reports indicating that civilians are being prevented from leaving for safer areas, resulting in numerous casualties. These reports are reminiscent of the violations committed in El Geneina, West Darfur, last June”, said Volker Perthes, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNITAMS.

He said the Mission is documenting all violations, adding that “these heinous acts are serious violations of the human rights of civilians and may constitute war crimes under international law.”

Mr. Perthes reminded all parties of their obligations to ensure the safety and protection of all civilians.

UNITAMS called for all forces engaged in hostilities to immediately cease their military operations immediately and resume talks held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  

The Mission also reaffirmed commitment to support and facilitate efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict. 

“We stand in solidarity with the people of Darfur and remain dedicated to achieving lasting peace and stability in the region”, Mr. Perthes said.