UN: ‘6.3 million people in Sudan will face famine if political inaction persists’

Eating together in Turba village in Darfur (File photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran / UNAMID)

In her opening remarks at the 78th UN General Assembly High-Level side event on the humanitarian response in Sudan and the region on Wednesday, Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, warned of imminent famine in Sudan. Civil society actors report worsening humanitarian conditions in the shelters across the country.

After five months of fierce fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, more than six million Sudanese are one step away from famine, DiCarlo warned. “These numbers will keep growing, as long as the guns keep talking.” 

She urged the international community to “do more to help stop the fighting and find a path to a political settlement and warned for the further cost of continued political inaction.

“Political inaction on Sudan has already exacted a heavy cost, with thousands of civilians killed, injured, and displaced. In addition to essential humanitarian action, we also need an increase in effective diplomacy.”

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) of Monday also sounded the alarm in its Sudan situation report If We Fail to Act on Monday.

The UN agency warned that without more humanitarian intervention, “20.3 million people will be food insecure, including 6.3 million who are one step away from famine”.

The heads of more than 50 humanitarian organisations last Friday also called for more “aid, solidarity and attention” for Sudan.

With fighting continuing across the country, brutal sexual violence rising, widespread deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and journalists and human rights defenders being silenced, the country has fallen over the edge, they stated in an open letter.

In its update of the situation in Sudan today, OCHA reported that as of September 19, 5.3 million people, one in every 10 people across the country, have fled their homes and sought refuge in Sudan or neighbouring countries.

“The longer the conflict continues, and low funding levels persist, the more devastating the impact,” the report reads.


The revised 2023 Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan is only 27 per cent funded as of 13 September, OCHA stated. “So far, of the 18.1 million people targeted for humanitarian assistance, 3.5 million people have received food, shelter, health, nutrition, protection and other assistance and services.”

On Wednesday, the USA announced the provision of more than $130 million in additional urgent humanitarian assistance to Sudan.

Mustafa Adam, director of the Sudanese Zarga Organisation, praised the $130 million pledge, and called on the Sudanese authorities “to adequately fulfil their role in managing humanitarian aid coming from abroad in a transparent and proper manner”.

The humanitarian conditions in El Gezira, Sennar, and White Nile state are very bad, he told Radio Dabanga yesterday. “There are now people living rough on the streets of El Gezira because the shelter centres are overcrowded,” he explained.

“Despite the efforts of the World Food Programme, Sennar and the three states of Kordofan have not received anything from the first batch of aid that arrived in the country.”

The situation is not much better in Northern State’s Merowe. Activist Izdihar Juma, volunteering for the Aun Initiative for Displaced People in the town, told Radio Dabanga that the people sheltering in the schools of Merowe are suffering from a lack of food, “as local authorities and humanitarian organisations have not provided any assistance”.

Youth in El Koma in northeast North Darfur also have set up an initiative to aid the people who sought refuge in the town.

“There are about 900 displaced people in El Koma town,” Saleh Harirein, a member of the initiative, told Radio Dabanga. “They are distributed among the schools here. Yet the shelters face overcrowding, and it is becoming more and more difficult to obtain even enough drinking water for them”.