Concern distribution site in Sudan.
Concern distribution site in El Geneina where NFI (non food items) arrived from Chad, that traveled almost 1000 km to deliver the items to the conflict displaced populations in Sudan. Photo: Concern Worldwide

Humanitarian corridors urgently needed to prevent impending famine in Sudan

The warring parties in Sudan must immediately allow safe access corridors from neighboring Chad and South Sudan to enable the UN and humanitarian organizations to bring in urgent health and nutrition supplies, if a looming famine is to be prevented in the coming months, with the potential loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, Concern’s Country Director in Sudan warned today.

Dr. Farooq Khan said his team’s experience on the ground in southern Sudan confirmed forecasts by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) last week that 755,000 people will face famine-like conditions in Sudan between now and September. 

The IPC forecasts that over half of Sudan’s population, 25.6 million people, will face crisis conditions by September – the worst levels of acute food insecurity ever recorded by the IPC in the country.

“We believe that some areas, which are inaccessible by non-government organizations because of fighting, may already be experiencing famine-like conditions. From the feedback we are receiving, the IPC could be under-reporting the situation by five to 10 percent,” Dr. Khan said.

“The 90 clinics we are supporting are under stress,” Dr. Khan said. “After 14 months of conflict many people have no access to their farms or livelihoods. People are selling off their assets to buy food for their families. Supplies to commercial markets have been disrupted by the fighting. Many people are now totally reliant on aid in order to have just one meal a day.”

Since the conflict erupted in April 2023, almost 11,000 children aged under-five have been treated for acute or severe malnutrition at Concern-supported clinics.

Access to health facilities is increasingly challenging for populations, which have been forced to leave their homes to flee fighting or in search of food. Concern is currently exploring options to operate mobile clinics to meet people’s needs. 

“Many people have already been forced to move [two or] three times,” Dr. Khan said. Over 10 million Sudanese people are internally displaced while a further 2.2 million have fled to neighboring countries.

Supplies of nutritional food for clinics, used to treat malnourished children, have also been erratic due to the conflict.

In addition to supporting clinics, Concern is also procuring and distributing food, including cereals, legumes, sorghum, dried vegetables, and cooking oil.

“Accessibility to impacted communities and an uninterrupted supply of essential health and nutrition commodities are our key issues at this stage, if widespread famine is to be prevented and lives saved,” Dr Khan emphasized.

Concern’s teams are also responding to support the huge numbers of Sudanese refugees who have fled to neighboring Chad and South Sudan, both countries with their own humanitarian challenges.

The UNHCR estimates that over 600,000 people have crossed into Chad since April 2023. This could rise to over 910,000 by the end of the year.

Concern is implementing a multi-sectorial emergency response in camps and host communities near the Sudan border, providing vulnerable households with access to water, sanitation and hygiene services, health and nutrition support.

Concern is supporting health clinics which are screening for and treating moderate and severe cases of malnutrition, providing pre-natal and post-natal consultations, curative health services and vaccination services.

In South Sudan, an estimated 729,955 people have crossed the border since April last year. Concern teams there are screening people for malnutrition and providing them with access to clean water. They are also providing cash assistance so people can purchase food and other needs.

Concern Worldwide is calling on the international community to:

  • Redouble efforts to bring about an end to the hostilities through an immediate ceasefire and an inclusive peace process;
  • Press parties to the conflict to guarantee humanitarian access through all possible cross-border and crossline routes, and ensure the safety of civilians and humanitarian responders;
  • Increase investment in the local health system which has been severely disrupted, but not destroyed. Despite the immense challenges, many health workers have returned to clinics and are doing what they can. However, there is a severe shortage of equipment and medicines, including lifesaving supplies of Ready to Use Therapeutic food, which is essential for the treatment of malnutrition;
  • Press donors to immediately disburse $2 billion committed at the Paris conference in April to finance and accelerate the supply chain of essential medical supplies and equipment; support multi-purpose cash transfers wherever markets are functioning, as well as targeted in-kind food assistance.