5 min read

The world's largest displacement crisis

April 17, 2023
by Medair
On 15th April 2023, civil war broke out in Sudan between two rival factions of the military government of Sudan, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Sudan is a culturally complex country, with its African and Arabic communities overlaid by a tribal structure, all co-existing in the same territory. There have been clashes over many generations and tensions never fully evaporate, so it’s not uncommon for conflict to evolve and social cohesion to disappear.

In recent months, the RSF has advanced on a number of major cities, driving significant displacement of people. The population of Khartoum stood at around six million people a year ago, but today is closer to 1 million. The UN reports that 12,000 civilians had been killed by the end of 2023 (although the actual death toll is believed to be much higher) and that nearly half of Sudan’s 49 million people require humanitarian aid. The fighting continues and it’s a tough place to survive.

With 25 million people in need and around 9 million now displaced, Sudan is home to the world’s largest internal displacement crisis.  

It has been a real challenge for Medair to keep our humanitarian programming going over the past year, for obvious reasons. Many of our national team have lost family members either directly to the conflict or as a result of not being able to access medical care, so they are processing significant trauma and grief at the same time as serving people in great need. Most NGOs (including Medair) have been looted too, losing quite literally everything – vehicles, computers, medical equipment and provisions.  

Despite the security issues, bureaucratic challenges and difficulties associated with accessing places where needs are high, Medair continues to make a positive impact, including:

  • Blue Nile - Health and nutrition, with a particular focus on pregnant / breastfeeding women and children
  • Blue Nile - Setting up a ‘Stabilisation Centre’ for malnourished children
  • White Nile - Responding to the cholera outbreak, distribution of cash and essential non-food items.
  • Khartoum - Distribution of essential non-food items.

It’s worth mentioning that the conflict is not the only life-threatening development in Sudan right now. We are seeing outbreaks of diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and cholera, while the country’s agricultural output has been severely hampered by farmers’ inability to plant seeds due to the fighting. With no impending harvest of note, the situation is grim and senior UN officials are warning of famine, which you are likely to hear about in the next few months.

There are more recent developments that are making the situation even more difficult. The border to Chad was closed last month, cutting off the primary route through which all aid to Darfur was flowing.

At a time when many agencies are pulling back, Medair is trying to scale-up. Our in-country team is incredibly courageous, finding ways of distributing emergency Non Food Items (NFIs), cash and Gifts In Kind (GIKs) to over 2,000 families so far, sometimes under fire. It is truly inspiring to see their bravery and dedication.

With the help of our generous supporters, Medair persists through security threats, upheaval and atrocities being committed, while the world looks the other way.

The people of Sudan are incredibly resilient ... but they shouldn’t have to be.

April 17, 2023
by Medair
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