From the Field

Sudan crisis: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

As violence continues to intensify and displacement spreads throughout Sudan and into other countries, the hunger crisis in the region has reached alarming levels. Even before the recent surge in hostilities, approximately one-third of Sudan’s population faced hunger every day. The ongoing conflict has placed millions more at risk. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 19 million people — two-fifths of the country’s population — are now expected to face food insecurity and hunger in the coming months.

 Sudan crisis: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Fast facts: Sudan crisis

  • Sudan is Africa’s third-largest country by area, with a population of more than 45 million.
  • Nearly 25 million people — more than half of the population — will need humanitarian aid in 2023, with millions of children going hungry.
  • About 17.3  million people in Sudan lack adequate access to clean water, putting them at risk of disease.
  • Approximately 24 million people lack access to proper sanitation facilities.
  • Hunger is a grave concern, with a third of the population already facing acute levels of food insecurity. Additionally, up to 2.5 million more people “are expected to slip into hunger in the coming months,” according to the WFP.
  • As of early June, the conflict has displaced over 2 million people, including over 500,000 who have fled to other countries, including Chad, Central African Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and South Sudan.
  • More than 13.6 million children are in urgent need of life-saving aid — the highest number ever recorded in the country — according to UNICEF.
  • About 7 million children who are out of school need education support.
  • According to UNICEF, 190 children died during the first 11 days of fighting alone, with another 1,700 injured.

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A bright pink terrycloth blanket covers a baby who peers over the shoulder of a woman standing in a crowd of mothers and babies.
World Vision, in partnership with the World Food Programme, has supported people through health and nutrition services in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur. The clinic has offered therapeutic programs and screenings for children suffering from malnutrition. (©2022 World Vision)

What is causing the current crisis in Sudan?

On April 15, 2023, armed clashes broke out in Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan, following days of increased tension regarding a proposed transition to democratic governance. The security situation has deteriorated, resulting in hundreds of deaths, including 18 humanitarian aid workers. Armed attacks have also spread to other cities, including Nyala in South Darfur state.

“Thousands upon thousands of civilians are trapped in their homes, shielding from the fighting, with no electricity, unable to venture out and worried about running out of food, drinking water and medicine,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk.

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How has the conflict impacted the Sudanese people?

Many people in Sudan were already facing hunger daily as a result of climate shocks, rising food prices, and political unrest. The recent conflict and surge in violence have affected people in numerous ways, including:

  • Acute shortages of food, water, medicines, and fuel, with prices of essential items and transport sharply increasing.
  • Limited or no access to healthcare services. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 25 deadly attacks on healthcare facilities, with many other facilities stretched beyond capacity and nearly non-functional due to staffing issues and lack of supplies.
  • Forced displacement in various states, including Khartoum, Northern, Blue Nile, North Kordofan, North Darfur, West Darfur, and South Darfur. Many from these areas have fled to the neighboring countries of the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and South Sudan.
  • Sexual and gender-based violence. U.N. Women has called on all parties to ensure that women and girls are protected from these crimes.
  • Fear and insecurity. Armed combatants have been occupying homes and reportedly some hospitals and schools, attacking water and electrical infrastructure.

Gamal, a communicator from World Vision in Sudan, shared, “Every day we are under fire. Planes bomb the area where I live with my family. We are seeing people moving from other areas of Khartoum into the houses of relatives. And here people are moving away to live with relatives in other states. We don’t know where the shooting will come from, and all types of weapons are being used.”

Read Gamal’s report from Sudan on Christianity Today’s The Better Samaritan blog.

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What risks do children face in the Sudan crisis?

The conflict in Sudan has reached a critical point, with over 13.6 million children urgently needing life-saving humanitarian assistance — “the highest number ever recorded in the country,” according to UNICEF. Children bear the brunt of the devastating crisis, as ongoing violence threatens their lives and future prospects. According to UNICEF, 190 children died during the first 11 days of fighting alone, with another 1,700 injured.

Even before the conflict, Sudan had one of the highest malnutrition rates among children worldwide. Over 3 million children are facing severe acute malnutrition. The situation is worsening as most regions in Sudan are experiencing restricted access to critical resources such as food, water, and sanitation and hygiene resources. In addition, millions are in need of healthcare, as many health facilities are closed, damaged, or destroyed.

World Vision has joined other humanitarian agencies in calling for all parties to prioritize the protection of civilians, particularly children.

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How is World Vision responding to the crisis in Sudan?

World Vision is one of the largest humanitarian aid organizations active in Sudan, having worked there for nearly four decades. Over the past year, we have reached more than 1.5 million people — most of them women and children — with life-saving aid, including food; access to clean water; and child protection, health and nutrition, and sanitation and hygiene programs.

Despite recent security challenges, World Vision remains committed to serving the most vulnerable communities affected by the crisis in Sudan.

  • In Sudan, operations are limited, but we are prioritizing food distributions in stable areas. As of June 12, we have reached 100,234 people with over 600 metric tons (about 1,322,772 pounds) of food in South Kordofan and South Darfur states.
  • Chad currently hosts the largest number of Sudanese refugees within World Vision’s response countries, with over 125,000 people — mostly women and children. This influx has strained the resources and capacities of host communities and humanitarian agencies. World Vision has identified food aid; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); and child protection as the most critical areas for intervention. We’ve already initiated a response in these areas. In addition, a total of 10,000 mosquito nets will be distributed to refugees, with priority given to children, pregnant women, and other vulnerable groups. Authorities have called upon the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations to help relocate the refugees before the height of the rainy season when roads may be inaccessible.
  • Due to the escalating tension in communities in South Sudan, World Vision has temporarily suspended operations in South Sudan’s Upper Nile region. However, we’ve been able to provide clean water to returnees at the Malakal temporary reception/transition center. We’ve also delivered 9 metric tons (more than 19,840 pounds) of a nutritional supplement to support 9,000 malnourished children in northwestern South Sudan. Over 400 households have received blankets, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, soap, jerrycans, solar lamps, feminine hygiene items, and kitchen sets. Our dedicated security team remains vigilant, monitoring the situation to determine when it’s safe to resume full-scale operations.
  • In the Central African Republic, we plan to support 18,000 refugees, including 10,500 children. Our plans include drilling or fixing 36 boreholes, distributing 12,000 mosquito nets, and equipping 2,000 households that are hosting refugees with latrines, hygiene kits, and child-friendly spaces.
  • In Ethiopia, we’ve initiated our humanitarian assistance to help meet the needs of the increasing number of displaced people. Most people are Ethiopian returnees who have arrived in Metema, a northwestern region bordering Sudan. Our primary focus is to support these returnees through cash vouchers, which can help them resettle and secure essential needs such as food, shelter, transportation, and healthcare.

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Where has World Vision worked in Sudan, and for how long?

Headquartered in Khartoum, our 308-member local team works with volunteers and partners in four states: South Darfur, Blue Nile, East Darfur, and South Kordofan. We’ve served children and families in Sudan for nearly four decades, from 1971 to 1988 and from 2004 onwards, initially responding in Darfur.

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How can I help children and families affected by the crisis in Sudan?

  • Pray: Join us in praying for all those affected by the conflict in Sudan.

Dear Heavenly Father, we pray for protection and provision for children, families, and communities facing hunger and the effects of the ongoing conflict in Sudan. We pray for the hearts that need to be comforted after losing loved ones in this crisis. We ask You to bring an end to the violence afflicting the people of Sudan. Father, please watch over World Vision staff and give them strength and the ability to reach the most vulnerable communities.

  • Give: Your gift will help provide essential care to children and families made vulnerable by the conflict.

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