June 23, 2024

Soaring hunger in Sudan as nearly 4 million displaced: UN

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The UN sounded the alarm Wednesday of impending famine in Sudan, where months of war have hit food supplies and pushed nearly four million people to flee the fighting.

“Over 20.3 million people, representing more than 42 percent of the population in the country, are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity,” the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization announced.

Half that number was already highly food insecure last year, before war broke out between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

In a new escalation of an already disastrous humanitarian situation, “6.3 million people are one step away from famine”, the UN warned on Wednesday.

The fighting has destroyed critical infrastructure, severely hampered agriculture and blocked the delivery of crucial aid.

More than half of the population is “facing acute hunger” in West Darfur, which has seen some of the worst clashes, including civilians targeted for their ethnicity and mass sexual violence.

The latest figures from the International Organization for Migration show that more than three million people have been internally displaced, with almost a million more fleeing across Sudan’s borders.

The IOM figures show that upwards of two million people have fled Khartoum alone — 40 percent of its estimated pre-war population.

For months civilians have been pleading for a reprieve from the ceaseless air strikes, artillery battles and gunfire that have turned cities including the capital into war zones.

No humanitarian corridors have materialized despite promises from the warring parties, preventing aid groups from delivering increasingly life-saving assistance.

Deadly urban battles continued in the war-torn capital on Wednesday, with an army spokesman announcing in a televised address that “dozens from the rebel militia” had been “killed and wounded” in an air strike in southern Khartoum.

The RSF, which has positioned itself as the savior of democracy even as it is accused of atrocities, again accused the army of “conspiring” with the former regime of Omar al-Bashir.

Longtime autocrat Bashir was ousted in 2019 after popular protests. The fragile transition to civilian rule that followed was derailed by a 2021 coup led by Burhan, with Daglo as his number two.

When the two generals fell out in a bitter feud, Daglo accused Burhan’s government of starting the war in order to usher Bashir’s banned National Congress Party (NCP) back into power.

An RSF statement Wednesday said the army was “covering up” NCP officials’ activities across the country, particularly in eastern Sudan, and warned against “civil war”.

It accused the army of protecting members of the old guard who had escaped from prison early in the war, “with the express goal of again seizing the mantle of power in our country”.

©️ Agence France-Presse

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