25 April 2024

Millions need urgent food, shelter, peace amid Sudan civil war

Millions of internally displaced people in war-torn Sudan need food and proper shelter. Picture: supplied.

Jenan Taylor

25 March 2024

Rising numbers of people in Sudan are in need of life-saving and emergency relief from hunger, disease and gender-based violence amid its continuing war, faith and humanitarian groups say.

More than 13,000 thousand people have been killed and millions have fled their homes since the civil conflict broke out in Sudan in April 2023.

Anglican churches in Sudan were among other faith and humanitarian actors who said they were grappling with how to support the growing numbers of people in need.  

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs urged the United Nations in March to sound the alarm that the conflict could spark the world’s largest hunger crisis.

Human rights and emergency relief groups also warned the war was fuelling gender and sexual-based violence, and disease.

The Anglican Diocese of Kadugli in the Nuba mountains said thousands of internally displaced people were struggling to access humanitarian relief because there were few, if any, aid groups on the ground.

Read more: More refugees, more hunger: What we missed in 2023

Diocese of Kadugli Bishop Andudu Elnail said in a recent video the political instability and conflict in the country had driven out many humanitarian and media organisations.

Bishop Elnail said this made it difficult for the outside world to know what was going on, and that many people were dying in the silence.

He said the diocese located in the Nuba Mountains had helped some of the 300,000 internally displaced persons who fled to the area in November 2023.

Bishop Elnail said through Anglican Aid they were able to provide them with sorghum, mosquito nets, medicine and other aid.

But he said a further 121 refugees had recently arrived in the mountains looking for food and shelter, and the church now had to choose who most needed the help.  

Bishop Elnail said it was critical they received proper shelter as many would die from disease and lack of sanitary conditions with May’s rainy season approaching.

He said they most needed food, plastic sheets and blankets, medicine and safe drinking water.

Caritas Australia said last year a partner in South Sudan reported more than 4000 refugees a day were arriving at a transit camp. About 90 per cent were women and girls.

Humanitarian Emergencies lead Sally Thomas said the rates of gender-based violence and sexual violence were particularly disturbing.

Read more: Millions more face starvation as battle rages in Sudan

Ms Thomas said in the six months after conflict erupted 4.2 million people in Sudan needed gender-based violence services.

She said that number was expected to increase to more than six million in 2024.

She said Caritas Australia was supporting its partners there to distribute aid for internally displaced persons, including food and gender-based violence protection.

Ms Thomas said when the war broke out a Caritas Internationalis partner in Chad was one of the only humanitarian organisations active in a remote area of Sudan.

Anglican Aid said its partner in South Sudan was able to get emergency aid to beneficiaries through a network of safe passages.

But chief executive Tim Swan said despite petitions from many external parties and months of violence, meaningful progress towards peace had been negligible.

Africa based human rights NGO DefendDefenders reported in January that the conflict was unlikely to end soon because of the absence of diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire.

Human Rights Watch said in March it wanted the United Nations Security Council to take immediate action including sanctioning people who obstructed aid access in Sudan.

In December the Australian government pledged $10 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan and neighbouring countries for protection and help for displaced people.

To donate to the Diocese of Kadugli, Nuba Mountains, via Anglican Aid please see here.

To donate to the work of Caritas Australia’s partners in Sudan, please see here.

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