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Faith Nyasuguta

United Nations human rights experts have accused Sudan’s warring factions of using starvation as a weapon of war, amid escalating warnings of an impending famine in the country. Sudan has been in turmoil since April last year when tensions between the military and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) erupted into full-scale conflict in Khartoum and other regions.

Over 14 months of fighting, more than 14,000 people have died, and 33,000 have been wounded or injured, according to UN estimates. However, human rights activists believe the actual toll may be much higher. Reports of sexual violence and other atrocities have surfaced, with rights groups classifying these acts as war crimes and crimes against humanity. The conflict has triggered the world’s largest displacement crisis, forcing over 11 million people to flee their homes.

“Both the SAF [Sudanese Armed Forces] and the RSF are using food as a weapon and starving civilians,” stated the UN experts. “The extent of hunger and displacement we see in Sudan today is unprecedented and never witnessed before.” Attempts to reach the military and the RSF for comments were unsuccessful.

/Daily Sabah/

The experts have warned of an imminent famine, citing the blockage of humanitarian aid and the disruption of the harvest season due to the ongoing war. They estimate that over 25 million civilians in Sudan, as well as those who have fled the country, are facing starvation and urgently need humanitarian assistance. A recent report by the Clingendael Institute think tank projected that approximately 2.5 million people in Sudan could die from hunger by the end of September, with regions like Darfur and Kordofan being the hardest hit.

Local efforts to address Sudan’s hunger crisis have been severely hindered by unprecedented violence and targeted attacks on civil society and local responders. The UN experts reported that dozens of activists and local volunteers have been arrested, threatened, and prosecuted in recent weeks. “The deliberate targeting of humanitarian workers and local volunteers has undermined aid operations, putting millions of people at further risk of starvation,” they said. “Local responders are risking their health and lives and working across battle lines.”

The UN experts urged both warring sides to “stop blocking, looting, and exploiting humanitarian assistance.” These experts are part of the UN special procedures, the largest body of independent experts within the organization’s human rights system.

Recently, the fighting has concentrated around El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, trapping hundreds of thousands of civilians. The UN reported that at least 143,000 people have fled the city over the past three months. Earlier this month, the UN Security Council demanded that the RSF immediately end its siege of the city, which remains the military’s last stronghold in the expansive Darfur region.


The UN’s urgent call to action reflects the dire situation in Sudan, where the humanitarian crisis continues to worsen amid ongoing violence and instability. 


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Faith Nyasuguta

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