Woman talking to Concern worker sitting at table
Concern and other NGOs constructed shelters, latrines, water systems, and continue to distribute NFI, water and hygiene kits to refugees arriving in Chad. Photo: Audrey Hernandez/Concern Worldwide

Urgent international action needed to avert impending famine in Sudan

Concern Worldwide warns that the international community must urgently fund a massive mobilization of supplies and resources in order to prevent an impending famine in Sudan.

After a year of conflict, Sudan is facing one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises. More than half the population – 25 million people – currently need humanitarian aid and 3.7 million children are today in need of urgent nutrition support.

As the fighting continues and the crisis continues to deteriorate, the Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations, which produced an analysis of the hunger crisis in Sudan in February, said last week that it now expected a country-wide famine to occur in Sudan between May and November. It is expected that 18 million people (40 percent of the population) will experience famine like conditions. 

“The international community cannot stand by and allow this crisis to continue to unfold,” Concern’s Country Director in Sudan, Farooq Khan, said. “Words like ‘famine-like conditions’ mean that children are already dying. The situation in the Darfur and Kordofan States is particularly worrying. Our teams there report a rapid deterioration in the condition of children presenting at health facilities.”

The scale of the crisis in Sudan is shocking. In addition to the hunger crisis, more than 8.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict, including 1.8 million who have crossed into neighboring countries.

Currently over 70 percent of health clinics in Sudan’s conflict zones are not functioning, adding further to the humanitarian crisis.

“What we urgently need from the international community is major funding, political and diplomatic measures to halt the fighting, and action to ensure safe access for humanitarian workers and aid,” Khan said.

Inaction by international donors to date means that just 5 percent of the $2.6 billion humanitarian funding needed to meet Sudan’s needs this year has been provided as conditions continue to deteriorate.

“It is unacceptable at a time when famine is looming,” Khan said. “Nobody should die of hunger due to a lack of funding, while waiting for peace.”

Concern is calling for urgent action on three fronts:

  • Donors must urgently fund a massive mobilization of supplies and resources to limit the impact of this humanitarian catastrophe. The international pledging conference for Sudan, taking place in Paris today (April 15), is a real opportunity for donors to step up and close the funding gap.
  • UN member states, especially those on the Security Council and those with the greatest influence in the region, must use their power to press for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and a peaceful and negotiated political solution to the conflict.
  • Donors and UN member states must redouble efforts to ensure parties to the conflict facilitate safe access for humanitarian actors and for communities to receive humanitarian aid.

“Despite insecurity, complex and costly logistics, and bureaucratic impediments hindering the international response, communities and humanitarian organizations are responding and much more can be done if the resources are provided,” Khan said.

Of the 1.8 million people who have left Sudan as a result of the conflict, 564,000 have crossed into neighboring Chad. Concern is also responding there to provide humanitarian support.

In Sudan, Concern’s work includes:

  • Supporting 80 health facilities with health and nutrition treatment and prevention services
  • Providing the health facilities with vital drugs, equipment, and furniture, as well as therapeutic food supplements
  • Running mobile health and nutrition clinics for communities who cannot access facilities
  • Providing preventative and curative services to address the ongoing cholera outbreak
  • Providing emergency cash payments to those who have no source of income
  • Providing essential household items to families who have fled, including soap, detergent, and buckets for water
  • Helping communities to rebuild and enable people to generate an income

In Chad, Concern is responding by:

  • Providing and constructing shelters
  • Operating a mobile health clinic, providing nutrition services for cases of malnutrition, prenatal and postnatal consultations, and vaccination services
  • Supporting health centers in villages with access to healthcare, medication, and staffing of clinics
  • Distributing non-food items such as tarpaulins, ground mats, jerry cans, mosquito nets, blankets, buckets, pots and cooking utensils

Concern Worldwide has worked in Sudan since 1985. It currently has a team of over 100 staff who are working to respond to the needs of those impacted in Sudan.