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2024 Demands Swift Action to Stem Sudan’s Ruinous Conflict

Children who have fled with their families from Sudan eat food provided by World Food Programme (WFP) at a centre in South Sudan. December 2023. Credit: WFP/Eulalia Berlanga

NEW YORK, Jan 5 2024 (IPS) - Nearly nine months of war have tipped Sudan into a downward spiral that only grows more ruinous by the day. As the conflict spreads, human suffering is deepening, humanitarian access is shrinking, and hope is dwindling. This cannot continue.

2024 demands that the international community – particularly those with influence on the parties to the conflict in Sudan – take decisive and immediate action to stop the fighting and safeguard humanitarian operations meant to help millions of civilians.

Now that hostilities have reached the country’s breadbasket in Aj Jazirah State, there is even more at stake. More than 500,000 people have fled fighting in and around the state capital Wad Medani, long a place of refuge for those uprooted by clashes elsewhere.

Ongoing mass displacement could also fuel the rapid spread of a cholera outbreak in the state, with more than 1,800 suspected cases reported there so far.

The same horrific abuses that have defined this war in other hotspots – Khartoum, Darfur and Kordofan – are now being reported in Wad Medani. Accounts of widespread human rights violations, including sexual violence, remind us that the parties to this conflict are still failing to uphold their commitments to protect civilians.

There are also serious concerns about the parties’ compliance with international humanitarian law. Given Wad Medani’s significance as a hub for relief operations, the fighting there – and looting of humanitarian warehouses and supplies – is a body blow to our efforts to deliver food, water, health care and other critical aid.

Once again, I strongly condemn the looting of humanitarian supplies, which undermines our ability to save lives.

Across Sudan, nearly 25 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2024. But the bleak reality is that intensifying hostilities are putting most of them beyond our reach. Deliveries across conflict lines have ground to a halt.

And though the cross-border aid operation from Chad continues to serve as a lifeline for people in Darfur, efforts to deliver elsewhere are increasingly under threat.

The escalating violence in Sudan is also imperiling regional stability. The war has unleashed the world’s largest displacement crisis, uprooting the lives of more than 7 million people, some 1.4 million of whom have crossed into neighbouring countries already hosting large refugee populations.

For Sudan’s people, 2023 was a year of suffering. In 2024, the parties to the conflict must do three things to end it: Protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian access, and stop the fighting – immediately.

A statement made by Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator

IPS UN Bureau


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