The ongoing violence in Sudan could plunge East Africa as a whole into a humanitarian crisis, said the director of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) in Germany on Sunday.
Sudan’s military under de facto president Abdel-Fattah Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) loyal to his deputy Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo have been fighting since April 15 — worsening an already serious food shortage there.
What Germany’s WFP boss said
“A third of the country’s population was starving even before the fighting broke out, now there is a shortage of everything and food prices are skyrocketing,” Martin Frick, the director of the WFP in Germany, told the DPA news agency.
There have been similar price increases in neighboring Chad and South Sudan, both of which have taken in thousands of refugees since the fighting began in Sudan two weeks ago.
“In South Sudan, which is facing flooding in some areas and droughts in others due to the climate crisis, food prices have risen by 28% in a very short time,” said Frick.
Frick said the most vulnerable seeking shelter in Sudan, including pregnant women and already malnourished children, could be left with nothing if suspended aid is not resumed.
Fragile cease-fire set to end
Hundreds of people have been killed since the fighting began between the two generals, who have grappled for power since two successive military coups.
Thousands are also fleeing the country. While governments from across the world have launched evacuation missions to airlift their citizens to safety, the WFP has had to suspend its support to 7.6 million people in Sudan.
Burhan has branded the RSF — supported by Russia’s Wagner Group among others — as a militia that is seeking “to destroy Sudan” while Dagalo has countered with the accusation that the military chief is “a traitor.”
Intense fighting has affected 12 out 18 states across Sudan, including the Darfur region, the ministry said.
The sides are particularly locked in battle for the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and they have fought on despite a series of truces, with the latest set to expire at midnight local time (2200 GMT/UTC).
The army has been battling RSF forces entrenched in residential areas of the city, although the situation was said to be relatively calm on Sunday morning.
Both Burhan and Dagalo took part in the ouster of Islamist-backed strongman Omar al-Bashir in 2019. They had been trusted to guide a shift to civilian rule but staged a coup together in October 2021 to derail that transition.
Their alliance disintegrated, and disagreement over integrating the RSF into the regular army erupted into a full-scale conflict.