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Faith Nyasuguta

Sudan is on the brink of a famine that could surpass any seen in the world since Ethiopia’s crisis 40 years ago, US officials have warned. Aid deliveries remain blocked by warring factions, while arms supplies to both sides continue unabated.

Much of the global focus is on Gaza, where another human-made famine is unfolding, leaving Sudan’s crisis largely unnoticed. The United Nations has labeled Sudan’s situation the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, slipping towards a disaster of historic proportions with minimal media coverage and global concern. 

A UN humanitarian appeal for Sudan has garnered only 16% of the necessary funds.

We need the world to wake up to the catastrophe happening before our very eyes,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN. She highlighted the dire situation in El Fasher, North Darfur’s capital, which has been under siege by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for two months. 

The RSF, a paramilitary group clashing with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) since April 2023, has turned a power struggle between two rival generals into a full-blown conflict. The civil war has already claimed 14,000 lives and displaced 10 million people.


On Thursday, the UN Security Council adopted a UK-drafted resolution demanding an end to the El Fasher siege. However, the conflict intensified on Friday, with the SAF repelling a significant RSF assault and claiming to inflict “huge losses.”

Samantha Power, head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), expressed concerns about the fate of El Fasher’s residents if the RSF takes the town. The RSF, largely recruited from the Janjaweed militias notorious for their role in the Darfur genocide of 2003-2005, poses a severe threat. “The RSF is on the march, and where the RSF has gone in the Darfur area historically, and in this conflict, mass atrocities have followed,” Power stated.

On Friday, Power announced $315 million in new US humanitarian assistance for Sudan but noted that aid was barely reaching isolated populations. Both sides in the conflict have been accused of weaponizing food access. 

The RSF has been systematically looting humanitarian warehouses, stealing food and livestock, and destroying grain storage facilities and wells in vulnerable communities. Meanwhile, the SAF has blocked cross-border access from Chad at the Adré crossing, the primary route for aid into Darfur. Despite offering an alternative access point, US officials argue it is inadequate and will become impassable with the rainy season.

“The really clear message here is that it is obstruction, not insufficient stocks of food, that is the driving force behind the historic and deadly levels of starvation in Sudan,” Power emphasized. Current data suggest the crisis could be worse than the 2011 famine in Somalia, which killed a quarter of a million people. Power warned that Sudan might face the deadliest famine since Ethiopia’s in the early 1980s, which killed a million people between 1983 and 1985.

In a worst-case scenario, Thomas-Greenfield projected that over 2.5 million people, about 15% of the population in Darfur and Kordofan, could die by the end of September. “This is the largest humanitarian crisis on the face of the planet. And yet, somehow, it threatens to get worse,” she added.

While humanitarian aid faces constant obstruction, both sides in the conflict continue receiving weapons. The SAF is supplied by Russia and Iran, among others, while the RSF receives support from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a US ally. 

Thomas-Greenfield mentioned that Washington had engaged with the UAE on this issue. However, a White House account of a meeting between President Joe Biden and UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the G7 summit did not mention Sudan.

/Al Jazeera/

The US faces accusations of hypocrisy, especially from countries in the Global South, for calling for an end to arms supplies to Sudan while continuing to provide substantial military aid to Israel during its offensive on Gaza.

As the crisis in Sudan escalates, the international community’s response remains crucial. The dire situation demands urgent global attention and action to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented scale.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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