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Sudan crisis: Situation 'spiraling out of control,' UN says

August 15, 2023

UN agencies and NGOs are urging global action amid what they say could possibly amount to "crimes against humanity" in Sudan. The UN is particularly worried about women and girls tied up in the conflict.

Sudanese armed forces celebrate Army Day in eastern Gadaref State
The Sudanese Armed Forces continue to fight the rival RSF, with no sign that the violence will let up anytime soonImage: AFP

Four months into Sudan's conflict, the situation is rapidly deteriorating with widespread displacement and the looming threat of famine, humanitarian organizations warned on Tuesday, urging immediate global action.

Since the eruption of conflict in Sudan on April 15, the country has been witnessing a severe humanitarian crisis. UN warnings of arbitrary killings and rampant sexual abuse show the critical situation in the country.

UN agencies and NGOs said in a joint statement that the situation in Sudan "is spiraling out of control." 

Mo Ibrahim: We must help Sudan 'before the fire spreads'

What is the situation in Sudan?

The signatories from 20 global organizations pointed out that "more than six million Sudanese people are one step away from famine."

"More than 14 million children need humanitarian aid and over four million people have fled the fighting, either within the war-ravaged country or as refugees to neighboring states," the statement said. 

The UN voiced particular concern for women and girls caught up in the conflict, amid "shocking incidence of sexual violence, including rape."

"We've seen an increase of more than 900% in the conflict areas of gender-based violence," Laila Baker of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) told reporters in Geneva via video link from Cairo. She emphasized that "women are incredibly at risk."

Sudanese women wait at a hospital in Port Sudan
The conflict has massively displaced people within the country, with Port Sudan being a refuge for many IDPs Image: AFP

The joint statement also said that the reported widespread attacks on civilians, looting of humanitarian supplies and targeting of aid workers "may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity."

The UN Human Rights Office said its figures — which are highly likely an undercount — indicate that more than 4,000 people have so far been killed in the fighting, including 28 humanitarian and health workers and 435 children. 

Amnesty: War crimes widespread in Sudan

'There's no excuse for waiting'

They decried the lackluster international response four months into the fighting between Sudan's army, led by General Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of his former deputy, Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

"There is no excuse for waiting. Please change that," said the statement, pointing out their two appeals for financial support — for a total of more than $3 billion (€2,74 billion) — are less than 27% funded.

The UN said it so far received just a quarter of the $2.57 (€2.35 billion) billion it had appealed for to help people in Sudan, and just 31% of the $566 million (€517.32 million) requested to help those who have fled as refugees to neighboring countries.

The war has displaced more than 4.3 million people, including some 3.2 million within the country, said William Spindler, a spokesman for the UNHCR refugee agency. 

Previous attempts to halt the violence failed.

There have been at least nine cease-fire agreements between the warring parties. The US and Saudi Arabia have previously mediated peace efforts in the city of Jeddah. 

ai/fb (AFP, AP)