Sudan displaced ‘left to fend for themselves’ as aid falters in Darfur

Sudanese refugees awaiting aid distribution in Chad, near the border with Sudan (Photo: UN)

The Darfur Women’s Forum has raised the alarm regarding a “looming threat of famine” in the region. This concern coincides with the General Coordination of Camps for the Displaced and Refugees warning that the absence of urgent humanitarian aid places millions of displaced people in Darfur at risk of starvation. Further testimonies from displaced people in North Kordofan, Omdurman, and refugees in Uganda unveil similar struggles facing Sudanese, amidst the ongoing war.

In a statement titled ‘On the Threat of Famine Affecting the Region’, released on Tuesday, the Darfur Women’s Forum warns that after 11 months of conflict, “the people of Darfur find themselves unable to leave their homes due to extreme poverty”. This dire situation persists even for those who have returned to their homes from displacement, compelled by humanitarian circumstances.

The statement spoke of a “severe scarcity of essential food items in the region’s markets”. The price of millet has surged to SDG3,000 to SDG4,000, while other staples such as onions, lentils, beans, flour, oil, sugar, rice, meat, and milk have seen exorbitant price hikes. These price increases have reportedly led to deaths among the displaced, particularly among vulnerable groups, due to malnutrition.

The organisation called upon all parties involved in the conflict to open secure corridors to facilitate humanitarian aid delivery, and to restore communication networks throughout Sudan, especially in Darfur, where communication services have been disrupted since the conflict’s onset.

Donors were urged to increase funding for organisations operating in Darfur, and to establish civil society oversight mechanisms to ensure unhindered aid distribution, “free from interference by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)”.

The forum highlighted reports from the United Nations indicating Sudan’s status as home to the world’s largest displacement crisis, “with eight million displaced persons and refugees, and a staggering 25 million people in urgent need of humanitarian aid, including 15 million facing acute hunger and five million at emergency levels”.

The General Coordination of Camps for the Displaced and Refugees condemned the blockade of humanitarian aid and civilian spaces in Sudan, emphasising that withholding food and relief for displaced people “constitutes a war crime and a blatant violation of human rights”, in a statement yesterday.

The coordination lamented the decision by the Port Sudan government to block humanitarian aid entry across the Chadian border, “depriving over five million people, primarily camp residents, of essential food security access”.

Urging the conflicting parties “not to exploit Sudanese society’s vulnerability for their own ends”, the statement emphasised the pressing need for swift international intervention.

West Darfur

El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, is facing a critical shortage of medical personnel and essential medicines, as reported by the Central Observatory for Human Rights (COHR) yesterday.

According to the COHR, only three government hospitals remain operational in El Geneina, supplemented by eight private clinics supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). These hospitals primarily cater to children, women, obstetrics, and surgery, with affiliations to El Geneina Teaching Hospital.

The report highlights a significant shortage of medical staff in these hospitals due to widespread displacement. Treatment institutions and medical personnel were physically targeted at the onset of the war, causing scores of staff to flee.

The acute scarcity of life-saving medicines, treatments for chronic and endemic diseases, is further compounded by severe environmental degradation, resulting from a lack of preventive health measures and disruptions to authorities responsible for sanitation.

North Darfur

Displaced people in Kassab camp in North Darfur complained about food scarcity, elevated hunger rates, deteriorating security conditions, and a lack of drinking water, and described conditions in the camp as “catastrophic”.

Abdelmajeed Mohamed, a resident of Kassab camp, told Radio Dabanga that lands were not cultivated during the last season because of the war, and aid stopped more than a year ago. “We have to grind sorghum peel to feed our children”, he told Radio Dabanga.

All humanitarian-led health facilities near the camp have suspended operations, and medicines are costly in private facilities, he added. The approximately 90,0000 Kassab camp residents also struggle to access water, with 17 of the camp’s 24 pumps reportedly out of service.

Security conditions in the vicinity of the camp, an area controlled by the RSF, were said to be unstable, with Mohamed pointing to an increase in thefts. “A number of rickshaws coming from Kutum were plundered this week, and several passengers were assaulted on the roads of North Darfur”.

In Shangil Tobaya camp, North Darfur, displaced people complained of severe food shortages, amidst an influx of people fleeing nearby villages and towns. “We sometimes have to eat leaves as food, and we have not received any humanitarian aid since the war began”, a resident told Radio Dabanga. 

People in camps resort to herbal medicine and traditional childbirth methods, due to the complete lack of health care in the camp.

Security conditions are reportedly deteriorating in Shangil Tobaya, and residents are “left to fend for themselves, as no other parties are willing to protect [them]”.

Um Rawaba

In North Kordofan, residents of Um Rawaba are living in difficult conditions amidst a shortage of job opportunities, a lack of liquidity, and the deterioration of health services and treatment options.

Yesterday, Um Rawaba resident Ibrahim Mohamed told Radio Dabanga that people in North Kordofan struggle to earn a living, and that “even if you get a job, wages are barely sufficient to get by”.

Food commodities prices have soared in markets, surpassing most residents’ means. Health services in the state have also suffered under the brunt of war, with people struggling to access treatment given the high prices and scarcity of medication, especially for chronic illnesses.

Mohamed added that there is a “relative détente” in North Kordofan, and that residents “can now travel to different areas in the state without worrying about bandits and road thieves”.


The residents of the southern El Salha suburb of Omdurman are grappling with dire humanitarian, security, and health challenges, exacerbated by harsh living conditions and a siege imposed by the SAF on the area, which is under RSF control.

An anonymous source, speaking to Radio Dabanga, highlighted the severe economic siege imposed by the army, resulting in a scarcity of essential commodities and a drastic rise in prices. The closure of roads leading to the area, combined with restrictions on importing goods through the Sabreen Market in El Sawra.

Basic commodities such as sorghum, flour, and meat are becoming increasingly unaffordable for residents. The price of sorghum and flour has soared to SDG6,000, and meat prices reached SDG8,000 per kilogramme.

The telecommunications blackout has severed vital connections, leaving many residents without work or a source of income. Those reliant on bank transfers from relatives in other states have been particularly impacted by this disruption, the source said.

In addition to economic woes, the health situation is dire, with limited access to qualified healthcare facilities and a severe shortage of medicines. Patients with chronic illnesses are particularly vulnerable, as they struggle to access adequate treatment in “understaffed and under equipped” health centres. The scarcity of medicines has also led to incidents of theft.

The security situation in the area is precarious, marked by arbitrary arrests and restrictions on movement. Residents live in fear of being detained on baseless charges, particularly if they are unfamiliar to members of the RSF. “While there may be some flexibility for people [known to the RSF], the overall atmosphere remains tense and oppressive, with uncertainty surrounding the fate of those arbitrarily detained”, the anonymous source told Radio Dabanga.


Sudanese refugees residing in Kiryandongo camp in Uganda are raising concerns over inadequate basic services within the camp, particularly relating to water, healthcare, shelter, and education.

Hasan Abouh, a resident of Kiryandongo camp, highlighted to Radio Dabanga the challenges faced by Sudanese refugees, including issues with accessing safe drinking water, limited healthcare facilities, and difficulties in transporting patients to the nearest hospital in Bweyale.

Abouh emphasised that the water available within the camp is saline and unfit for consumption, forcing refugees to embark on long journeys to obtain potable water. Additionally, he noted the challenges faced by patients in reaching the hospital due to transportation constraints, relying primarily on motorcycles for transport.

Fellow Sudanese refugee Sabri Mustafa echoed these concerns, noting a continual rise in the camp’s refugee population, “particularly following the suspension of registration procedures for Sudanese refugees in Kampala approximately two months ago”.

Mustafa further warned of a lack of sanitation facilities, including toilets, within the camps.

He pointed out a significant disparity in the provision of basic services, attributing it to a “disconnect between UN organisations and government institutions addressing refugee issues in Kampala, who may not fully comprehend the challenges faced by refugees in the camps. This disconnect results in inadequate attention to the pressing needs of camp residents.”