Saturday, June 22, 2024

2.5 million people in Sudan could starve to death by September, alerts new report

A chilling new report from the Clingendael Institute, a Dutch think tank, projects that around 2.5 million people in Sudan could die from hunger and related causes by September 2024 if the current crisis persists unabated.

The alarming estimate underscores the catastrophic toll of the internal war between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces that has been ravaging Sudan since April 2023.

Depleted harvests, plunging food imports

The report’s grim forecast stems from an in-depth analysis of depleted harvests, plummeting food imports, soaring prices, and dwindling humanitarian aid access in the warring nation.

 “If the current situation continues, there will be an estimated excess mortality of about 2.5 million people,” the report states plainly.

It notes that 90% of these projected deaths would be concentrated in just 10% of Sudan’s total population, with the Darfur and Kordofan regions potentially seeing a horrifying 15% of their populations succumb to hunger and related diseases by September.  

Community-level food sharing is only a temporary salve  

In the wake of the conflict’s outbreak, which disrupted supply chains and logistics nationwide, informal community-level food sharing initiatives sprang up as a survival mechanism. But the report cautions that while these grassroots soup kitchens have provided a stopgap for many of Sudan’s most poverty-stricken regions, they need to be complemented by increased agricultural production and an influx of international food aid to avert mass starvation.

“One cannot survive at emergency levels of food consumption for a long time,” the report gravely warns, adding that some areas have likely already reached a tipping point where large-scale hunger is transitioning into widespread death.  

Warnings since conflict’s onset

The stark projection builds on previous policy briefs from the think tank detailing the severe disruption to Sudan’s food systems since the conflict began over a year ago. 

As early as February 2024, it was already reporting the worst hunger levels ever recorded during the October to February harvest season. At that time, it presaged a worst-case “catastrophic” scenario of acute nationwide food insecurity by June of this year without concerted humanitarian intervention – a dire reality that now appears increasingly likely to materialise.

Humanitarian crisis deepens 

UN agencies have likewise sounded alarms over the deepening crisis. Just last month, UNICEF estimated that 8.9 million children in Sudan currently face acute food insecurity, with 4.9 million having reached emergency hunger levels. Nearly 4 million children under 5 are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2024.

While conflict fatality estimates from monitoring groups like ACLED(Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project) have tabulated over 15,500 deaths so far, the excess mortality from starvation projected in this latest report suggests an exponential increase in magnitude, if the situation becomes worsened.

As diplomatic efforts to broker a ceasefire continue to falter, the clock is ticking for the international community to muster adequate aid to pull millions of Sudanese back from the precipice of famine. Whether that is achievable amid the relentless devastation remains an open question with millions of lives hanging in the balance.

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