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Sudan crisis: UN donor conference yields $1.5 billion in aid

June 19, 2023

The United Nations warned that Sudan could quickly become "a locus of lawlessness" without international support, urging nations to provide more humanitarian aid for those fleeing the conflict.

People board a truck to leave Sudan's capital Khartoum
The UN warned that nearly 4 million children and pregnant or nursing mothers are acutely malnourishedImage: AP/picture alliance

The UN sponsored a donor conference for conflict-hit Sudan on Monday, appealing to countries in the Middle East and Europe to ramp up aid efforts to address the deepening humanitarian crisis in the African nation.

International donors pledged some $1.5 billion (€1.3 billion), covering only around half of what the UN had requested.

'Unprecedented' escalation in Sudan

Sudan has been embroiled in a conflict between rival military factions for over two months, which has left 2.2 million people displaced. Some 2,000 people have been killed in the violence, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project said.

"The scale and speed of Sudan's descent into death and destruction is unprecedented," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the opening of the meeting in Geneva.

"Without strong international support, Sudan could quickly become a locus of lawlessness, radiating insecurity across the region," he added.

The UN had appealed for $2.6 billion (€2.3 billion) this year in humanitarian aid to Sudan and an additional $470 million in regional aid to help refugees from the conflict.

"Sudan was already grappling with a humanitarian crisis. This has now escalated into a catastrophe affecting more than half the country's people," Guterres said.

UN agencies said ahead of the conference that almost 25 million people in Sudan are in need of humanitarian aid, while 4 million children and pregnant or nursing mothers are acutely malnourished.

Germany doubles donation

The conference was attended by representatives from Germany, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, the African Union and the European Union.

Germany said it would double its existing donation, bringing its contribution to €200 million. The EU pledged a similar sum of €190 million for humanitarian and development assistance.

Qatar's representative, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, called on the warring parties to "put the aspirations of the Sudanese people in the forefront."

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry warned that the conflict may trigger a humanitarian crisis that could spill over the borders, highlighting that Sudan's security and stability "is our own stability and security."

Three-day ceasefire 

The conflict began in mid-April, as a result of a long-running power struggle between Sudan's army leader Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). 

The two generals had once been allies, having originally seized power together in 2021.

Sudan's capital, Khartoum, and other urban areas have since been turned into battlefields, with the RSF occupying homes and other civilian properties, residents and activists have said, while the army has staged repeated airstrikes in densely populated civilian areas.

But ahead of the conference, the warring parties agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire.

"The parties agreed that during the ceasefire they will refrain from prohibited movements, attacks, use of military aircraft or drones, artillery strikes, reinforcement of positions and resupply of forces, and will refrain from seeking military advantage during the ceasefire," the US embassy for Sudan said.

"They also agreed to allow the unimpeded movement and delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout the country."

jcg/rs (AP, AFP, Reuters)