Sudan Is Unraveling

Sudan is Unraveling

Lara Kajs | 29 August 2023 |

Around the world, violence and conflict have displaced millions, forced families to flee from their homes, collapsed national healthcare systems, and disrupted daily life. And nowhere is that more apparent than in Sudan. The country is essentially collapsing, and Sudan is unraveling. The fighting began in April and since then, it has been relentless, and it is spreading.

The war in Sudan has created a vast humanitarian need and it is not being met. Half the population of Sudan – 25 million people – need some form of relief. The UN puts the amount to meet the country’s need to be $3 billion this year, but pledges are falling short. Commitments are somewhere around $1.5 billion – half what is needed.

The future of Sudan’s youth is critical. Two million children have been forced from their homes since the start of the conflict just over four months ago. As the conflict continues, an entire generation will likely miss out on education, and there are reports of forced child soldiering. Without a resolution to this conflict, an entire generation of Sudan’s children will be lost.

Khartoum Besieged

Khartoum is a war zone and there is evidence that Darfur has become the scene, once again, of genocide. There is a constant sound of gunfire. The war has not spared anyone. In one horrific incident, an orphanage, besieged in the conflict, resulted in the deaths of at least 71 children and infants who died from hunger and sickness.

Nearly 1.4 million have fled the capital and nearby cities. That’s 15 percent of the population which means there is a lot of the population still at risk. Civilians are being killed in fighting whether it is in street battles, artillery fire, or air attacks. Homes have been occupied, vandalized, looted, and destroyed. And there is sexual violence.

The city is barely functioning. Banks and most businesses are closed. Hospitals have been attacked and looted. Violence and food shortages are prominent in Khartoum. Food stocks have been depleted. Roadblocks prevent aid workers from reaching those in need. Humanitarian offices have been ransacked and supplies pillaged. Parts of Khartoum have had no electricity for weeks. The city is under complete siege: no food, no nourishment, no medication, nothing.

Healthcare and Infrastructure Collapsed

The conflict has decimated Sudan’s healthcare. As of 31 May, some 67% of all hospitals in areas impacted by fighting are out of service. Only 29 hospitals were operating even minimally and were at risk of closure due to a shortage of medical staff, supplies, water, and electricity. Critical services, including maternal and child health care and management of severe acute malnutrition, have been discontinued. The WHO noted that hundreds of thousands face severe malnutrition and are at risk of death. If left untreated, malnourished children are particularly vulnerable to disease outbreaks, while access to medical treatment is lacking.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted, “The scale and speed of Sudan’s descent into death and destruction is unprecedented.”

Genocide in Darfur

The ICC is investigating new war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Warnings from the UN point that the war “now threatens to consume the entire country.” In West Darfur, an ethnic conflict has reignited. The UN says the violence could constitute crimes against humanity. There is a difference between what is happening in Khartoum and what is happening in Darfur. In Darfur, it is much worse. There are particularly disturbing reports coming from el-Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, of bodies lining the streets. Estimates put the number killed to be more than 5,000 and nothing short of a renewed genocidal campaign.

Mass Displacement

More than 4.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes since April. Cross-border displacement has reached more than 1 million, as many have fled to neighboring countries. Since the conflict began, some 180,000 people from Darfur have fled to Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world. Chad does not have the infrastructure or resources to deal with a humanitarian catastrophe of this nature. It simply cannot support a refugee crisis on this scale. There are no camps and no tents. People are trying to set up space using clothing or fabrics they brought with them. Water is an issue. Food is an issue. They are incredibly underfunded. This is a situation that could destabilize the entire region.

There is no resolution in sight. Warring parties should put the people of Sudan above the pursuit of power. The international community needs to respond to this urgent crisis.

The Need for Resolution

While there have been efforts by the African Union and the East African IGAD to get the two sides together, perhaps the main push has been from the US and Saudi Arabia. The specific focus has been to negotiate a ceasefire around humanitarian corridors to bring in aid. But it has not worked. The two sides have not honored the ceasefires, or they have used them to rearm and ensure that supply lines are running. Both sides see this as a pragmatic struggle. Neither side is ready to give strategic concessions if it means that they might lose ground on the battlefield. Each side is not only trying to win but trying to annihilate the other, in order to have complete control of the country and its resources.

And all of this leaves the people of Sudan worried as to whether they will make it to tomorrow.

Photo Credit: South Sudanese return amid Khartoum unrest, seek aid as UNMISS provides a protective presence by UNMISS Media. Licensed under CC by NC-ND 2.0