06 March 2024

Sudan conflict risks creating world’s largest hunger crisis – UN

06 March 2024

A conflict raging for about a year between rival generals in Sudan risks creating the world’s largest hunger crisis, the top UN food official has warned.

Cindy McCain, head of the World Food Programme (WFP), said the fighting in Sudan, which pits the country’s military against a paramilitary group, has shattered the lives of millions across the north-eastern African nation, while the world’s attention is focused on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

As she wrapped up a trip to neighbouring South Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of Sudanese had fled the fighting in their home country, Ms McCain said: “The war in Sudan risks triggering the world’s largest hunger crisis.”

The UN food agency said some 18 million people across Sudan face acute hunger, with the most desperate trapped behind the front lines.

Sudan plunged into chaos in mid-April when clashes erupted in the capital, Khartoum, between the country’s military, led by Gen Abdel Fattah Burhan, and paramilitaries known as Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Gen Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

The fighting quickly spread across the nation, especially urban areas but also the unsettled western Darfur region.

Thousands of people have been killed, including between 10,000 and 15,000 people, when paramilitary forces and allied Arab militias rampaged through a Darfur town last year.

Two decades ago, Darfur became synonymous with genocide and war crimes, particularly by the notorious Janjaweed Arab militias, against populations that identify as Central or East African.

It seems that legacy has returned, with the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor Karim Khan saying in late January there are grounds to believe both sides are committing possible war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide in Darfur.

Ms McCain said: “Twenty years ago, Darfur was the world’s largest hunger crisis and the world rallied to respond. But today, the people of Sudan have been forgotten.”

The conflict has uprooted more than 10 million people either to safer areas inside Sudan or to neighbouring countries, according to the UN agencies.

Ms McCain called for the warring parties to stop fighting and allow humanitarian agencies to provide their life-saving assistance.

“The consequences of inaction go far beyond a mother unable to feed her child and will shape the region for years to come,” she said.

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