The UN Food Program (WFP) is asking the warring parties in Sudan to immediately ensure unhindered access to emergency aid in the war-torn areas of the country, where fleeing civilians are now left to fend for themselves.
The number of people affected by hunger has doubled in the past year, and almost 18 million people are in famine, according to the WFP.
More than 5 million of these are suffering from acute famine in the areas hardest hit by the war, and the WFP says that they are only able to provide one in ten people in these areas with emergency aid.
Among the hardest hit areas in the country are the capital Khartoum, the state of Darfur in the west and El Gezira state, where the RSF militia recently made progress, according to the WFP.
Emergency help in limbo
The war between the government army and the RSF militia in Sudan has displaced almost 8 million people, and 25 million people are now in need in the country, the UN estimates.
Aid organizations have been warning for several months against the danger of a famine disaster. But the war between the country’s two top military leaders, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former second-in-command, RSF militia leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, rages on.
Relief supplies have been severely reduced by 70 trucks being stuck in Port Sudan for more than two weeks, while 31 others have been stuck in El Obeid for more than three months. Both cities are controlled by government forces.
– Every single one of our trucks has to get on the road every day to give food to the Sudanese people. Yet life-saving aid does not reach those who need it most, and we are already receiving reports of people dying of hunger, says WFP’s Sudan representative Eddie Rowe.
According to a conservative estimate by The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the war that broke out in April last year has so far cost at least 13,000 lives.
– There is reason to believe that both the government army and the militia are committing war crimes, said the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, in the Security Council earlier this week.
Attempts at mediation have resulted in short-lived ceasefires, which both parties are accused of breaking.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, this week asked the international community to immediately contribute further to help the many who have been driven to flee by the hostilities, most of them in their own country.
Over 500,000 Sudanese have also fled to neighboring Chad, and an equal number have crossed the border into South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries.
Over 100,000 refugees have also sought safety in Ethiopia, Grandi stated during a visit to Addis Ababa on Wednesday.
– I have heard stories of heartbreaking loss of family, friends, home and livelihood, he said.
– Without further support from donors, it will be very difficult to provide help to those who need it most, added Grandi.
Earlier this week, the United States imposed sanctions on three Sudanese companies accused of being directly linked to the warring parties in Sudan. Two of the companies are said to have ties to RSF, the third is run by the government army.
The US has already imposed sanctions against several key figures in Sudan, including Foreign Minister Ali Karti and one of Dagalo’s brothers.