25.7 million Sudanese in need of humanitarian assistance

People displaced bt the fighting in Khartoum find makeshift shelter in Port Sudan, May 10, 2023 (Photo: Mohamed Elamin / WFP)


As the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and UN call for urgent funding to aid humanitarian efforts, it is estimated that 25.7 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance inside Sudan and across its borders.

According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix, at least 843,130 people fled their homes and sought refuge inside the country, with 1.8 million more expected to be displaced should the fighting continue.

Prior to the conflict, there were already 3.8 million displaced people and 1.1 million refugees in Sudan.

Nearly 259,000 people have already fled Sudan into neighbouring countries, “arriving in extremely vulnerable situations into often remote and underserved areas,” according to the IOM. If the fighting continues, it is estimated that over a million refugees and migrants affected by the crisis in Sudan may cross to neighbouring countries. 

Millions remain inside the country with soaring food and transportation prices, lack of cash and access to health care, supplies and critical services.

Three key priorities are civilian protection, humanitarian assistance and response, and accountability, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher Mohamed Osman in an interview this week.

“We’re talking about the expansion of the international arms embargo. There’s already an arms embargo in Darfur by the UN Security Council, but we want it expanded to limit the abilities of the warring parties to further endanger civilian lives.” In addition, HRW want the UN Human Rights Council to form a special mechanism to investigate abuses committed since the fighting began “with a mandate to collect and preserve evidence and promote accountability,” he said.

“Heavy fighting in populated areas has created a bleak situation,” according to Osman. “People are stranded in their homes for days. No one can bring them food. They look at social media and share stories of relatives who were injured days ago and then died without getting medical care.”

International response

On Wednesday, UN OCHA and UNHCR published a joint press release announcing that the Humanitarian Response Plan for Sudan has been revised due to the soaring needs spurred by the current crisis. It brings together 92 partners “to help people who have lost everything,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.

$2.56 billion, an increase of $800 million from just a few months ago, is needed to help 18 million people until the end of 2023.

The Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan seeks $470.4 million to support refugees, returnees and host communities in the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. The funds are intended to help over 1 million people, including refugees, returnees and third country nationals.

The plan will focus on swiftly ramping up food and water and sanitation and other lifesaving assistance. It will also increase its focus on protection, including the protection of children and the prevention of gender-based violence.

On the same day, the IOM launched a response plan appealing for $209 million to provide vital humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the crisis and outbreak of violence in Sudan.

Out of $209 million, IOM is urgently calling for $105 million needed for the response in Sudan and $104 million for the response across Egypt, Libya, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Ethiopia. This appeal also covers the $37 million IOM needs to assist third-country nationals stranded in Sudan and in neighbouring countries. 

Map showing the humanitarian toll of the conflict in Sudan (Map: OCHA Data Sources: STM/IOM, UNHCR)

According to a statement by the organisation on Wednesday, the UN World Food Programme is rapidly scaling up its emergency operations across the states of White Nile, Red Sea, El Gedaref, Kassala, El Gezira, as well as both North and East Darfur. They added that they hope to resume aid activity in Blue Nile state and Central Darfur “as soon as the security situation allows.”

In a recent interview with Radio Dabanga, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) Volker Perthes said that during the first week of the war, both the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were counting on a military solution. However, as the clashes enter their second month “the two sides have reached the conviction that a quick military settlement is out of the question.”

‘Devastating’ situation

Last weekend, listeners in Khartoum told Radio Dabanga that the military base in Soba had been bombed, along with the area in the vicinity of the El Medina El Riyadiya and in El Shegeilaab. Bombs destroyed a mosque and a number of houses in southern Khartoum which led to deaths and injuries.

The battles also continued in central Khartoum. The army announced its control of the Soug El Arabi in the city centre on Saturday. From Khartoum North, Radio Dabanga received reports of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) attempting to restore their positions.

Renewed hostilities in the capital were reported today on social media, including at a market in Khartoum.

Video posted on Twitter shows burning market in Khartoum (Source: Haytham Osman)

“Many people are stranded where they are. The fighting has damaged civilian infrastructure, so there’s little access to electricity, clean water, and health care. Cellular networks are often down, and there’s only limited access to online banking, which is a crucial way of buying things like food.

“Also, banks in general aren’t functioning so people can’t get cash. People are trying to survive both the fighting and the devastating impact it’s having on their daily lives,” Human Rights Watch’s Sudan researcher Mohamed Osman stated two days ago.

Fighting also continues in Northern State, North Kordofan, East, South, Central, and West Darfur, El Gedaref, and Blue Nile region. Just over one month after the conflict erupted on April 15, the death toll is still unknown.

Renewed clashes between RSF and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) were reported on social media in Nyala, capital of South Darfur yesterday, breaking a truce brokered by community leaders that has been in place since April 24.

Over 2,000 people have been reported dead in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, in the past three weeks, and a new attack on the town was launched on May 12 killing at least 280 people according to the Sudan Doctors Union. The situation has been labelled ‘extremely dangerous’.

The Women of Change organisation wrote on social media that a “Rwanda genocide scenario is happening now” in El Geneina “and the world is just watching.”

“The world keeps telling Sudan’s people that it stands with them, but so far these are empty promises. The world has failed Sudan by appeasing its abusive leaders, and a convincing case needs to be made to Sudan’s generals that accountability is coming. Then the international community would finally be defending the Sudanese people who want a better, peaceful, and just future,” HRW researcher Osman said.