Tackling Sudan’s humanitarian crisis after a year of war

Tackling Sudan’s humanitarian crisis after a year of war

Tackling Sudan’s humanitarian crisis after a year of war
Sudanese refugees arrive near the border between Sudan and Chad in Goungour, Chad on May 8, 2023. (Reuters)
Short Url

A solemn occasion was marked on Monday: one year since the outbreak of the devastating conflict in Sudan. What began as a clash between the army and paramilitaries has spiraled into a protracted war, leaving a trail of destruction and despair in its wake. With more than 8 million individuals forcibly displaced since April 15, 2023, and thousands seeking refuge in neighboring Chad and South Sudan, the crisis is of catastrophic proportions.

Among the myriad issues raised by the conflict, the collapse of Sudan’s healthcare system stands as one of the most pressing. With between 70 percent and 80 percent of hospitals in conflict-affected areas rendered inoperable, civilians are left without access to essential medical services. The indirect health consequences of the war are equally dire, with poor living conditions, a lack of clean water and limited access to vaccinations exacerbating the spread of disease. The lack of adequate healthcare infrastructure has also turned preventable illnesses into life-threatening conditions, further compounding the suffering of the already vulnerable population.

Another critical and growing concern is the rampant malnutrition plaguing Sudanese civilians. Food shortages and disrupted supply chains have led to widespread hunger, with many individuals, particularly children, suffering from severe malnutrition. The inability to access nutritious food has not only stunted physical development, but has also left countless individuals vulnerable to a host of health complications. Malnutrition is not merely a consequence of the conflict but a direct result of its devastating impact on the country’s infrastructure and economy.

In addition, the refugee crisis stemming from the conflict in Sudan has placed immense strain on neighboring countries, particularly Chad. Already grappling with their own socioeconomic challenges, Sudan’s neighbors are now burdened with the responsibility of hosting and providing for a massive influx of refugees.

The strain on resources, infrastructure and social services is palpable, exacerbating existing tensions and further destabilizing the region. Without significant international support, these countries risk being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the humanitarian crisis unfolding on their doorstep.

But it is vital to also address the inadequacy of the humanitarian response. In spite of the commendable efforts of humanitarian organizations, the response to the crisis in Sudan remains woefully inadequate. This is most likely due to limited funding, logistical challenges and accessibility restrictions that have hindered the delivery of essential aid to those in need. Millions continue to suffer without access to adequate food, shelter, healthcare and other basic necessities. Without a sustained effort to address the root causes of the crisis, humanitarian interventions will continue to fall short of meeting the overwhelming needs of the affected population.

The international community must ramp up its financial and logistical support for humanitarian operations

Dr. Majid Rafizade

In order to address the inadequacy of the humanitarian response to the crisis in Sudan, several key steps must be taken. First of all, increased funding from both governmental and nongovernmental sources is essential. Donors must prioritize allocating sufficient resources to the support of emergency relief operations, including food distribution, healthcare provision, shelter assistance and sanitation services.

Additionally, efforts should be made to streamline the delivery of aid by addressing logistical challenges and improving coordination among humanitarian organizations. This could involve establishing dedicated supply chains, enhancing communication networks and investing in transport infrastructure to ensure the timely and efficient distribution of aid to remote and hard-to-reach areas.

Moreover, access restrictions imposed by the warring parties must be addressed through diplomatic negotiations and advocacy efforts to ensure unimpeded access for humanitarian actors. By addressing these challenges and implementing robust solutions, the international community can work toward alleviating the suffering of millions of Sudanese civilians and building a more resilient and sustainable future for the region.

Urgent political action from the international community is also crucial to bringing an end to the protracted conflict in Sudan and alleviating the suffering of millions caught in its crossfire. Diplomatic efforts must be intensified to facilitate negotiations between the warring factions and to secure a lasting ceasefire.

The Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan provides an effective and pragmatic framework for action, emphasizing the need to prioritize the interests and well-being of the Sudanese people. This includes ensuring safe passage for civilians to leave areas of active hostilities voluntarily, along with respecting international humanitarian law and human rights obligations.

Furthermore, the international community must ramp up its financial and logistical support for humanitarian operations in Sudan’s neighboring countries. Increased funding is needed to scale up aid delivery, strengthen healthcare systems and address the root causes of malnutrition and food insecurity.

Finally, as we reflect on Sudan’s war one year on from its inception, we must also recognize the resilience and strength of the Sudanese people in the face of adversity. Their plight should serve as a rallying cry for solidarity and compassion, inspiring us to redouble our efforts to alleviate their suffering. Only through collective action and unwavering commitment can we hope to bring an end to Sudan’s war.

In a nutshell, the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Sudan demands a robust and coordinated response from the international community. The first anniversary of the conflict’s eruption serves as a vital reminder of the urgent need to act. The suffering of millions cannot be allowed to continue unchecked. It is time for world leaders to rise to the occasion, heed the calls for help and work together to bring an end to the crisis in Sudan.

• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian American political scientist. X: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view