UN warns of growing humanitarian needs in Sudan

According to the UN, in 2023 more than a third of Sudan’s population will be in need of humanitarian assistance due to rising numbers of displaced people and hunger.

“The number of severely food insecure people continues to rise for the third year in a row,” the UN humanitarian aid agency said in a report released Sunday.

It states that about four million children under the age of five and pregnant and lactating women are among the most vulnerable and need “life-saving nutrition services in 2023”.

Sudan poverty

Sudan was already one of the world’s poorest countries when the international aid it depended on was cut in late 2021 in response to a military coup that derailed a fragile democratic transition.

“About 15.8 million people – about a third of the population – will be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2023. This increase of 1.5 million people over 2022 is the highest since 2011,” OCHA said in a statement.

In addition to the conflict that has displaced millions of people, hunger and malnutrition, Sudan is one of the countries most affected by climate change in the world.

Widespread flooding affected about 349,000 people last year, causing a surge in illness, fueling displacement and further pressure on the economy, according to the UN.

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Malaria cases have “passed the epidemic threshold in 14 states” out of Sudan’s 18 states, according to OCHA, more than twice as many as in 2021.

Sudan has faced chronic difficulties under the regime of Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in 2019. His three decades of rule were marked by internal conflicts, government mismanagement, and punitive international sanctions.

Access to services

Economic troubles have worsened since the Covid-19 pandemic and a 2021 military coup that derailed the post-Bashir transition and cut critical international aid.

In the past year, access to services has become even worse.

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According to OCHA, about 30 percent of the population “has to walk more than an hour” to get to the nearest health facility, while about 26 percent of the population takes “more than 50 minutes to fetch water.”

Similarly, 46 percent of schools do not have access to potable water and 71 percent do not have handwashing facilities.