Roundup: War-triggered food shortages, malnutrition loom large in Sudan's Darfur region

(Xinhua) 10:15, March 28, 2024

KHARTOUM, March 27 (Xinhua) -- The Darfur region in western Sudan has seen more severe food shortages and malnutrition due to the ongoing deadly clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The Health Ministry of North Darfur State has revealed increasing rates of acute malnutrition among children during the first quarter of 2024, reported the independent Sudan Tribune news portal.

"561 cases of acute malnutrition have been recorded among children in the state, including 268 cases in El Fasher (the capital city of North Darfur State), 160 in Zamzam camp, and 133 in Abu Shouk camp," Ibrahim Khatir, the ministry's director-general, was quoted as saying.

Khatir warned of a possible increase in malnutrition rates in the near future, attributing it to ongoing conflict, disruptions in humanitarian aid, the cessation of international organizations' activities, and a decrease in cultivated areas.

Meanwhile, the General Coordination for Displaced Persons and Refugees, a voluntary body, announced that more than 561 children have died from food shortages and malnutrition due to the war, according to the Sudan Tribune.

"Over 5.9 million displaced people in Darfur camps face severe food shortages," the news portal quoted Adam Rijal, spokesperson for the body, as saying.

Rijal highlighted a dire shortage of basic foodstuffs, including fortified food for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and the elderly, while warning of a complete collapse of the health system in the camps, given shortages of life-saving medicine and the closure of primary healthcare centers due to insufficient medical staff and supplies.

He also pointed to a severe shortage of potable water, stressing that 70 percent of water sources inside the displacement camps are inoperable.

According to Rijal, over one million children in the camps are suffering from acute malnutrition.

The United Nations Children's Fund estimated last year that more than 13.6 million Sudanese children had been in desperate need of life-saving humanitarian aid.

In early February, the UN agency warned that about 700,000 Sudanese children were likely to suffer from the worst form of malnutrition this year, potentially leading to tens of thousands of deaths.

According to a humanitarian response plan by the UN, an estimated fund of 2.7 billion U.S. dollars is required to cover the needs of 14.7 million people in Sudan for 2024, of which only 135.9 million dollars is currently received.

In addition, the UN said half of Sudan's population -- some 25 million people -- need humanitarian assistance and protection, with nearly 18 million facing acute food insecurity.

Sudan has been witnessing deadly clashes between the SAF and the RSF since April 15, 2023. The clashes had led to the displacement of about 8.1 million people in Sudan, with about 6.3 million displaced internally, according to the Sudan situation report updated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs last month.

The report added that about 13,900 people have been killed since the fighting broke out, citing data recorded by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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