There’s a civil war in Sudan that’s been ongoing for about a year. Here’s what’s happening: 

The Northeast African nation has been in the throes of civil war since April 15, 2023. The violence began in the country’s capital Khartoum, following protests against a military regime that’s been in power since 2021. For almost a year, the country has been impacted by a violent power struggle between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which has killed 14,000 people — although the number may be larger due to a lack of access to the war zone for adequate reporting. Despite several attempts at a ceasefire, particularly to allow access to aid, none have truly stuck and civilian lives have been the cost. We’ve laid out a timeline of how this current civil war began, including the failed ceasefire attempts, dating back to 2019, that you can refer to here

As 2023 saw a number of conflicts, violence, and natural disasters — all of which have seen human suffering and all of which continue to need humanitarian assistance — the Sudan war has fallen to the bottom of global funding agendas, and yet the scale of need in the country keeps rising. 

"Sudan keeps getting forgotten by the international community,"  UN Humanitarian Aid Under-Secretary-General, Martin Griffiths, told diplomats in Geneva.

He continued: "There is a certain kind of obscenity about the humanitarian world, which is the competition of suffering, a competition between places: 'I have more suffering than you, so I need to get more attention, so I need to get more money.'” 

"We must not forget Sudan," he said.

Here are seven facts about the scale of need in Sudan:

1. 25 million people are in need of humanitarian aid.

That’s half of the entire population of Sudan who face need of humanitarian assistance, 14 million of whom are children. Even before the current ongoing violence, a third of Sudan’s population (around 15 million people) were already in need of humanitarian assistance due to “ongoing conflict, the climate crisis, disease outbreaks, and economic decline.” 

The military war has made matters much worse over the span of a year, and aid needs include access to food, access to protection from the ongoing violence, healthcare assistance, shelter, and access to clean water. 

2. Half a million people will likely be killed by famine by June 2024.

This is based on an examination by the Clingendael Research Institute which looked at the state of food insecurity in the country, taking into account lower crop stocks as a result of the war’s impact on agriculture. The war has already disrupted the planting and harvest seasons, meaning citizens have less access to food (not including a lack of  access to adequate humanitarian assistance). 

The report predicts the likelihood of “half a million excess deaths, half a million additional people fleeing Sudan, and 15% fewer births than normal” directly linked to food insecurity.

3. 10.7 million people have been displaced. 

The most recent estimate of displaced people was released in January 2024 by the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM). Those fleeing their homes to protect themselves from violence have sought refuge in Chad, South Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and the Central African Republic. 

"As of today, one in every eight internally displaced persons in the world is in Sudan. " said IOM Director General, Amy Pope in a statement. “...the humanitarian response so far is insufficient to meet the dire needs. We cannot turn our backs on the millions of people in need of support.” 

4. 4.2 million people are in need of gender-based violence-related assistance. 

This is already an increase from the 1 million that the UN calculated at the beginning of the fighting. What’s more is that the UN Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates that the demand for GBV assistance will rise to 6.9 million individuals in 2024

Women and girls are often used as weapons of war during times of fighting, you can learn more about how conflict and war hits them the worst in our explainer here

5. Approximately 70% of healthcare facilities are non-functional. 

According to the Sudan's Doctor's Trade Union, as reported by ABC News, roughly 70% of healthcare services have ceased operations due to shortages in supplies, personnel, and low access to the facilities themselves. The union reports that 21 hospitals have been evacuated by militants, and 17 hospitals have been destroyed by bombing and aerial attacks. 

6. 12 million children have been forced out of school because of the war.

Including the children who were already out of school before the war, the number of children without access to education is 19 million.

7. The United Nations has appealed for $4.1 billion in funding support for humanitarian aid.

With rapidly increasing needs within the country and for the nations hosting refugees, the UN appealed to the international community for US $4.1billion to address humanitarian issues in the country. 

The organization breaks down the funding needs as follows: $2.7 billion for emergency and humanitarian response for 14.7 million people inside Sudan and $1.4 billion for a regional refugee response plan to assist 2.7 million people in five neighboring countries. 

The civil war was ongoing at the time of publication as another ceasefire was rejected by the SAF as recently as March 11, 2024. As the war continues, the needs will rise, access to resources will diminish, and civilians will continue to senselessly lose their lives to armed violence. Sudan’s crisis must stay in headlines and continue to hold our attention in order for citizens to have a fighting chance at survival, and against impending poverty

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Sudan Crisis: 7 Facts About the Scale of Need in the Country

By Khanyi Mlaba