5 Million People in Sudan Experiencing Emergency Levels of Hunger After a Year of Conflict

Action Against Hunger Has Reached Almost 500,000 People
Apr 15, 2024 5:00 PM ET

April 15, 2024 /3BL/ - Today marks the one-year anniversary of the start of the conflict in Sudan. Nearly 18 million people, or one in three Sudanese, face high levels of acute food insecurity and five million are dealing with emergency levels of hunger. Conflict and hunger have displaced 8.2 million people, creating one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world today.

“This is the worst level of hunger ever recorded during the harvest season, which ends in February each year. This is usually a period when more food is available. It is a clear sign of the total collapse of livelihoods for Sudanese families and the threat of mass starvation,” said Samy Guessabi, Country Director of Action Against Hunger in Sudan.

The most vulnerable bear the brunt of the conflict. Some 2.9 million children suffer from acute malnutrition, including 700,000 children under five who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, the most dangerous and deadly form of extreme hunger. 200,000 children, pregnant women and new mothers could lose their lives to hunger in the coming months unless urgent life-saving assistance and funding is provided.

Action Against Hunger, present in Sudan since 2018, has been providing emergency assistance since the beginning of the conflict one year ago. Operating in White Nile, Blue Nile, South Kordofan, and Central Darfur, all experiencing high levels of food insecurity, Action Against Hunger has supported nearly 500,000 people in 2023, providing food, water, sanitation, and hygiene services, as well as protection, especially for women and girls.

The conflict has important gender implications. Prior to the fighting, social norms dictated that women had little control over resources. In their families, women and girls were the last and least likely to eat and 79% did not meet their minimum daily food needs. Today, women and adolescent girls face sexual violence or harassment when trying to access markets, fields, livelihood opportunities, or humanitarian aid distribution sites.

The escalation of hostilities has caused extensive damage and disruption to essential infrastructure and services, including those required for food production, processing and distribution, water, and health care facilities. Across the country, multiple factories and food production markets have been burned and destroyed and food aid has been looted on a massive scale. Although local markets continue to function in many areas of the country, families have lost considerable purchasing power.

Humanitarian organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to reach people in need due to the upsurge in violence and interference by warring parties, which prevent the access to most locations and the establishment of a safe humanitarian space in which to operate. Preventing the distribution of aid is a direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2417, which condemns the use of hunger and starvation as a weapon of war.

“Time is running out to avoid a rapid deterioration of the conflict-induced food insecurity crisis. The international community and the parties to the conflict must take immediate action to alleviate hunger and prevent a catastrophic malnutrition emergency,” said Samy Guessabi.

The World’s Largest Displacement Crisis

Since April 15, 2023, 8.2 million people have been displaced by the conflict: more than 6.5 million have been forced to move within Sudan and around 2 million fled to neighboring countries, notably Chad (36%) and South Sudan (31%). Today, more than 25 million people in Sudan, South Sudan and Chad are caught in a spiral of deteriorating food security and violence.
In South Sudan alone, an estimated 2,100 people arrive every day from Sudan. More than 600,000 people have arrived in South Sudan since the outbreak of hostilities in Sudan.

In Chad, almost 600,000 people have crossed the border from Sudan fleeing fighting or hunger and starvation. 88% of Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad are women and children.

“Given the lack of livelihoods, aid distribution remains the only source of food for refugee populations. Yet, we need more funding to meet the rising need. In the first quarter of 2024 alone, we at Action Against Hunger treated more than 800 children with severe acute malnutrition in Adre, on the border with Sudan,” said Henri-Noël Tatangang, Country Director of Action Against Hunger in Chad.

“Most of the people in transit are single mothers with children. Every single day, they don’t know how they will get food, water and shelter. We are trying to help, but while people continue to arrive in South Sudan, the funding is not,” warned Sulaiman Ken Sesay, Country Director of Action Against Hunger in South Sudan.

Underfunded Crisis

Sudan’s Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan 2024 seeks funding of $2.7 billion, but only 5% has been funded in the first four months of this year. “Last year, only 50% of funding needs were met. Despite this, the humanitarian community did its best to address urgent priorities, providing humanitarian assistance to 7 million people in 2023,” said Samy Guessabi.

“The already overburdened health system is breaking down,” said Sulaiman Ken Sesay. “In Warrap state, for example, the only hospital for a population of about 2.6 million people is barely functioning, as its main source of funding has ended its support. This situation has severely limited the ability to provide health services, including doctors and essential medication, to those in need. Action Against Hunger is working to fill the gap, but it is incredibly difficult without sufficient funds.”

In Chad, the humanitarian response is also underfunded and unable to meet the essential needs of the refugee community and host populations. In the coming months, the humanitarian situation will deteriorate further with the onset of the rainy season, the lean season, and the end of the few remaining sources of grant funding.

“Action Against Hunger is calling for the mobilization of the necessary funds for humanitarian aid in Eastern Chad, and also in Sudan and South Sudan,” said Henri-Noël Tatangang.

About Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger leads the global movement to end hunger. We innovate solutions, advocate for change, and reach 28 million people every year with proven hunger prevention and treatment programs. As a nonprofit that works across 55 countries, our 8,900 dedicated staff members partner with communities to address the root causes of hunger, including climate change, conflict, inequity, and emergencies. We strive to create a world free from hunger, for everyone, for good.


Photos by Pedro Javaloyes