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No Time to Lose as Famine Threatens Millions in Sudan Amid Intense Conflict

The Chadian border crossing in Adré where those fleeing the war in Sudan are partly arriving through. Photo: IOM 2023 / Muse Mohammed
The Chadian border crossing in Adré where those fleeing the war in Sudan are partly arriving through. Photo: IOM 2023 / Muse Mohammed

Time is running out for millions of people in Sudan who are at imminent risk of famine, displaced from their homes, living under bombardments, and cut off from humanitarian aid.

As the conflict enters its second year, 18 million people are facing acute hunger, including 3.6 million children who are severely malnourished. Famine is looming over millions in Darfur, Kordofan, Aj Jazirah, and Khartoum.

Sudan now has nearly 10 million internally displaced people, the highest number in the world. Additionally, 2 million people have fled to neighboring countries.

Attacks on civilians, including sexual violence, as well as assaults on hospitals and schools, are increasing. In Al Fasher, more than 800,000 civilians are bracing for an imminent large-scale attack, which could have catastrophic humanitarian consequences both locally and across Darfur.

Despite the overwhelming needs, aid workers are facing systematic obstructions and deliberate denials of access by conflict parties. Movements across conflict lines to parts of Khartoum, Darfur, Aj Jazirah, and Kordofan have been nearly impossible since mid-December. The closure of the Adre border crossing in February – the main route into western Sudan from Chad – means that limited assistance is reaching Darfur. Aid workers are being killed, injured, harassed, and humanitarian supplies are being looted.

In March and April of this year, nearly 860,000 people were denied humanitarian aid in Kordofan, Darfur, and Khartoum states. Deliberate hindrances to humanitarian assistance that leave civilians without essentials violate international humanitarian law.

Extreme hunger is unfolding, and the outlook for food production in 2024 is bleak. We have a rapidly shrinking window to get seeds to farmers before the main planting season ends and the rainy season begins. If we act in time, people – especially those in inaccessible areas – will be able to produce food locally and avert food shortages in the next six months. Without immediate action, people will go hungry and be forced to move in search of food, shelter, and protection.

If we are prevented from providing aid rapidly and at scale, more people will die.

Without an immediate and major change, we will face a nightmare scenario: Famine will take hold in large parts of the country. More people will flee to neighboring countries in search of sustenance and safety. More children will succumb to disease and malnutrition. Women and girls, already bearing the brunt of the conflict, will face even greater suffering and dangers.

To prevent these worst-case scenarios, we, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Principals, urgently request the parties to the conflict to:

  1. Protect civilians: Refrain from attacks against them, allow them to move to safer areas, and end sexual and gender-based violence.
  2. Facilitate humanitarian access: Ensure unimpeded access through all possible crossline and cross-border routes to allow civilians to receive aid.
  3. Cease interference with humanitarian action: Stop all acts of denial, obstruction, and politicization of humanitarian assistance.
  4. Simplify administrative procedures: Expedite the processes related to the delivery of humanitarian aid.
  5. De-escalate the situation in Al Fasher: Adopt a nationwide ceasefire.
  6. Stop human rights violations: End grave violations against children and hold perpetrators accountable.

We are also concerned by the limited support from donors. Nearly five months into the year – and six weeks after the International Humanitarian Conference for Sudan and its Neighbours in Paris on April 15 – we’ve received just 16 percent of the $2.7 billion we need.

Donors must urgently disburse pledges made in Paris and fast-track additional funding for the humanitarian appeal. With famine on the horizon, we must deliver much more life-saving aid now, including seeds for farmers before the planting season ends.

The clock is ticking. The choice is clear.


  • Mr. Martin Griffiths, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
  • Ms. Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, Secretary General, CARE International
  • Dr. Qu Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • Mr. Jamie Munn, Executive Director, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA)
  • Ms. Amy E. Pope, Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • Mr. Tom Hart, President and Chief Executive Officer, InterAction
  • Ms. Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Chief Executive Officer, Mercy Corps
  • Mr. Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  • Ms. Paula Gaviria Betancur, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (SR on HR of IDPs)
  • Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Ms. Janti Soeripto, President and Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children
  • Mr. Michal Mlynár, Executive Director a.i., United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat)
  • Mr. Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • Ms. Catherine Russell, Executive Director, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  • Ms. Sima Bahous, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women
  • Ms. Cindy McCain, Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP)
  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Mr. Andrew Morley, President and Chief Executive Officer, World Vision International
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