Since the outbreak of fierce fighting in Sudan in April 2023, the situation of the country’s people has deteriorated daily. What began as a humanitarian emergency in the spring has developed into one of the largest and most dynamic crises of our time. The great need of the Sudanese people unfortunately receives little public attention compared to other current crises, yet the numbers and individual fates behind them are dramatic: 24.7 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid; 20.2 million people are in food crisis; 5.9 million people have been displaced from their homes within the country’s borders. Violence has spread from the capital Khartoum to other states in the country.
The work of humanitarian agencies has been significantly affected by the fighting. While Medair and many other agencies have had to evacuate their international team members for several months, the heroes of this crisis are the national colleagues, who are working tirelessly under the most difficult conditions to help affected people in the country wherever they can.
“The conflict drives more and more displaced people to our health facilities”, shares Abdulbaset, Medair’s Project Manager on the ground in Blue Nile State in the southeast of the country. The fighting has damaged numerous hospitals, compromising Sudan’s already fragile health sector. Power shortages, limited medical supplies, and infrastructure damage further hamper essential healthcare delivery. Critical medical supplies, including those for reproductive health, are running dangerously low. The Blue Nile area has constantly been affected by a history of different subnational conflicts, floods, and disease outbreaks, but the escalation of the fighting from Khartoum worsens the situation particularly for the remote communities, who already lacked sufficient access to even basic health and nutrition services.
Medair was first present in Sudan between 2000 and 2012 and is back in country with humanitarian services for the vulnerable since 2020, mainly in the Blue Nile area. Strong partnerships with local communities and other humanitarian agencies made it possible for our national colleagues to continue providing services in recent months under these new and challenging conditions. With primary health care and reproductive health services our team can meet the most urgent medical needs of the population. The services also include nutrition support for children under five and pregnant and lactating women. Sudan faces a dire nutrition crisis, with the highest rate of child malnutrition globally. The ongoing conflict caused production disruptions, supply chain issues, fuel shortages, inflation, and currency depreciation that have in turn led to shortages and price hikes.
Medair’s services in Blue Nile also include the implementation of mother-to-mother care groups to share key information about nutrition and infant and young child feeding practices as well as trainings for health clinic staff and supply of essential medicines, vaccines, and supplies.
“Medair is working with groups of populations that were cut out from services and displaced for the last twelve years. We are now working hard to again provide sufficient health and nutrition services, which must work at all levels and categories of the health system,” Abdulbaset explains.
In one of our health facilities in Blue Nile we meet Daheeyia. She is a mother of six who had to flee her home due to an intercommunal conflict in October 2022. Attackers came and killed 18 of her relatives and looted their houses. Daheeyia and her children were evacuated to a safe place. Displaced and without a home, the family moved to a place in Blue Nile where Medair provides free health and nutrition services. After receiving services for her 13-year-old son Ali, the mother shares:
“I feel in pain and always remember those we lost because I miss them so much. And we lost our livelihood. We want to go back to our village, but we are afraid the attackers are still around and will kill us. If we knew the security situation allowed, we would return to our village immediately. I came to Medair’s facility for the treatment of my son because I do not have money for the treatment. I heard that Medair provides health and nutrition services here in this primary school. My neighbor told me about that today. I immediately brought my son for treatment. I am so happy that he received medication from you. Your facility is close to where we currently stay and easy to access for us without any difficulties. I want to thank the donors and the team of Medair for these free services.”
With rising needs across the country and very limited funding to address them, it is these individual stories of hope like Daheeyia’s and Ali’s that motivate our team to continue going the extra mile to reach people in dire need. As seen below, together with the generous support of our donors, our amazing staff keeps on going, even when the roads have ended.
Medair services in Blue Nile are funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the European Union (ECHO) and private donors.
This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.