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Sudan’s Intolerable War and Long Road to Recovery

Statement on the Occasion of the Joint Launch of the Sudan Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan and Regional Refugee Response Plan for 2024.


Posted on 07 Feb 2024

For nearly ten months, fighting has torn across Sudan. More than six million people have been displaced inside the country, and 1.7 million have sought refuge in the region and beyond. No one knows how many people have been killed.

Often cited estimates—currently around 13,000—are understood to be very low. But numbers alone cannot convey the war’s devastation. Half of Sudan is a battlefield, Khartoum is destroyed, and civilians have experienced violence that should be inconceivable in the 21st Century.

Today’s dual launch of two humanitarian response plans—the 2024 Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan and Sudan Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan—is an opportunity to shine a light on the horrors happening in Sudan and to reflect upon the country’s long road to recovery.

We have arrived at a critical moment for assuming the collective responsibility required to resolve this conflict, and for committing to support the rebuilding of communities shattered by war.

/  Petros Passas, DRC Country Director in Sudan.

Inside Sudan, nearly 18 million people—more than a third of the population—are at acute risk of hunger. This figure will continue to grow as fighting spreads further into agricultural centres in the East, and additional people are displaced. Untold more are likely to die at the hands of fighters or from shelling or aerial bombardment.

In early October, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project reported that 75 percent of all recorded civilian fatalities from the Sudan conflict were the result of bombs dropped on Khartoum. Last month, air strikes and shelling killed scores of civilians in at least eight of Sudan’s 18 states.

Other civilians, like so many since April 2023, will experience unspeakable sexual violence, robbery or other forms of abuse. This is a war on cities, towns and villages and the people who live in them.

In many of the worst affected areas, not least Khartoum and large swathes of Darfur and the Kordofan states, the humanitarian response has struggled to meet the extraordinary needs. Insecurity and bureaucratic obstacles continue to prevent the movement of humanitarian workers and material.

With far fewer resources and amidst growing dangers to their own safety, national organizations and community groups have stayed to serve their communities and the millions who have come in search of refuge. These efforts, however, are inadequately resourced.

Under the revised 2023 Humanitarian Response plan, less than five percent of asked-for funds were allocated to national non-governmental organizations. In 2024, more resources should go to local responders, and international humanitarian agencies must advocate for their protection as we would advocate for our own.

Beyond its borders, Sudan’s war has also deepened a regional humanitarian crisis. Civilians have been displaced into neighbouring countries already grappling with emergencies, and where humanitarian assistance is likewise limited because of insecurity, access challenges and funding shortages.

It is not too soon to begin planning for the massive reconstruction effort Sudan will require. First, however, we must use every measure of our collective influence to stop this war.

/  Petros Passas, DRC Country Director in Sudan.

Since the start of the war, 516,000 people—most from South Sudanese communities—have crossed from Sudan into South Sudan, a country struggling with persistent instability and staggering food insecurity. Another large-scale movement of people from Sudan could be catastrophic.

In Chad, 634,000 people have come from Sudan since April 2023. Some 75 percent are estimated to be refugees, most living in spontaneous sites on the border, where food, water, shelter, hygiene, health care and physical protection are in scant supply.

More than 400,000 have travelled north to Egypt to escape the war, and 100,000 refugees and returnees have entered Ethiopia. If fighting spreads further east, many more could be pushed into Ethiopia’s western region, where there is active conflict and severe drought.

More will be displaced as Sudan’s war spreads, and the ruinous destruction of the conflict makes it unlikely that many will soon be able to return to their homes or communities.

In some cities, critical infrastructure and entire neighbourhoods have been destroyed, and areas of Khartoum and other cities and towns are littered with unexploded or abandoned ordnance.

Even if the war were to end tomorrow, it would be months or perhaps years until some places could be made safe and again habitable.

We must acknowledge the reality, and prepare now and urgently. In the region, longer-term strategies are needed to ensure that people displaced from Sudan are protected and enabled to live dignified lives in the places they have sought refuge.

Far more funding is needed to support Sudan’s neighbours to meet the humanitarian needs of people from Sudan and the communities that host them.


Petros Passas | Country Director | DRC Sudan | [email protected]

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