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August 16, 2023 12:16 PM IST

Humanitarian crisis deepens as millions suffer in war-ravaged Sudan, warns UN

United States | UN | United Nations | Saudi Arabia | Sudan | Sudan's army | Rapid Support Forces | High Commissioner for Human Rights | RSF

The United Nations issued a warning on Tuesday as Sudan faces a deepening humanitarian crisis following four months of intense warfare that have devastated the capital city of Khartoum and triggered ethnically-driven attacks in the Darfur region.

“Time is running out for farmers to plant the crops that will feed them and their neighbours. Medical supplies are scarce. The situation is spiralling out of control,” conveyed U.N. agencies in a joint statement.

The conflict, which erupted on April 15 between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), has its roots in tensions related to a planned transition to civilian rule. This internal strife has plunged the nation into chaos and poses a grave threat to regional stability.

The devastating consequences are evident, with over four million people displaced from their homes, including nearly a million seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Civilians within conflict-affected areas have fallen victim to deadly attacks, with countless casualties.

“The remains of many of those killed have not been collected, identified or buried,” but the U.N. estimates that more than 4,000 have been killed, Elizabeth Throssell, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a briefing in Geneva.

Sexual assaults have surged by 50%, according to Laila Baker of the U.N. Population Fund. Cities such as Khartoum, Darfur, and Kordofan are gripped by looting and prolonged disruptions to power, communications, and water supplies. Adding to the ordeal, large swathes of the country has been engulfed in a nationwide electricity blackout since Sunday, which has also rendered mobile networks inoperable, as per a statement from the national electricity authority.

The situation is exacerbated by seasonal rains, which have caused the destruction or damage of homes, putting up to 13,500 people at risk of water-borne diseases, as per U.N. estimates. The armed conflict’s complexity is compounded by accusations and counter-accusations between the Sudanese army and the RSF, both vying for power.

International efforts led by Saudi Arabia and the United States to broker a ceasefire have faltered, leaving humanitarian agencies grappling with logistical challenges, insecurity, and bureaucratic obstacles in their quest to provide much-needed relief to the suffering population.

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