Parts of war-ravaged Sudan are at a high risk of slipping into catastrophic hunger conditions by next year’s lean season if the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is unable to expand access and regularly deliver food assistance to people trapped in conflict hotspots such as Khartoum, the Darfurs, and the Kordofans, warns the UN food agency today.
Sudan – once described as East Africa’s future breadbasket – is facing a deepening hunger crisis as the conflict raging across the country approaches its eighth month. A new food security analysis for Sudan shows the highest levels of hunger ever recorded during the harvest season (October through February), typically a period where more food is available. If there is no significant increase in food assistance by the time the lean season arrives next May, conflict hotspots could see the emergence of catastrophic hunger, also known as Phase 5 on the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).
“We urgently call on all parties to the conflict for a humanitarian pause and unfettered access to avert a hunger catastrophe in the upcoming lean season. Lives depend on it, yet there are far too many people trapped in areas with active fighting who we can only reach sporadically, if at all,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP Country Director and Representative in Sudan.
Nearly 18 million people across Sudan are facing acute hunger (IPC3+) – more than double the number at the same time a year ago. This figure is also higher than the initial projection of 15 million made in the previous assessment in August, demonstrating just how rapidly the food security situation is worsening.
Currently, close to 5 million people are in emergency levels of food insecurity (IPC4) with over three-quarters of these people cornered in areas where humanitarian access has been intermittent and, in some areas, impossible due to ongoing fighting.
Since the start of the conflict, WFP has provided life-saving assistance to over five million people, preventing an even worse deterioration of food security, especially in eastern and northern Sudan. Despite this, regular and safe humanitarian access to civilians in areas worst hit by violence has been inadequate. WFP has taken advantage of momentary lulls in fighting to reach families in greater Khartoum with food assistance but has only managed to reach the capital once in the last three months. Overall, of the people that WFP has identified as most urgently in need of food assistance in the Khartoum metropolitan area, only one in five has received food aid since the conflict started.
Regular convoys of food assistance have travelled from Chad to West and Central Darfur since August, providing half a million people with food assistance. Yet, people in other parts of the Darfur region have not received any assistance since June despite WFP’s repeated attempts to obtain safe access.
“The speed at which hunger has risen over the past year is alarming. More and more people are struggling to eat a basic meal a day, and unless things change there is a very real risk they won’t even be able to do that,” concluded Rowe.
The key drivers of the plunge into hunger include intensified conflict and growing intercommunal violence, macroeconomic crisis, soaring prices of food, fuel and essential goods, and below average agricultural production.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).