UN warns of mounting humanitarian crisis in Sudan

Aug 16, 2023, 7:38am EDT
Sudanese refugees collect water from a tap at the Gorom Refugee camp hosting Sudanese refugees on World Refugee Day, to celebrate the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict under the theme "hope away from home" near Juba, in South Sudan June 20, 2023. REUTERS/Samir Bol/File Photo
Jenna Moon/

The humanitarian crisis in Sudan is “spiralling out of control,” warned the United Nations as the war between the army and a paramilitary force reached the four-month mark. More than a million people have fled the country while millions more still in Sudan are displaced and facing food shortages. “Time is running out for farmers to plant the crops that will feed them and their neighbors,” the U.N. said.

More than a million people have fled Sudan for neighboring countries, the U.N. said. An additional 3.2 million people have been internally displaced. The situation is particularly tenuous for the country's health care system, which has been targeted in attacks. Sudan's children are chronically malnourished, and facing heightened risks of disease including measles and dengue.1

Sudan was already in the throes of a humanitarian crisis before the war broke out. Fifteen million Sudanese people face extreme food insecurity, and the country is hosting 1.3 million refugees, mostly from South Sudan. "The majority of refugees are women and children, who are more vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, though there have been reports that civilians of all ages are suffering human rights abuses," the Council on Foreign Relations wrote in a recent report.2

Humanitarian efforts are underfunded, creating challenges for aid organizations attempting to offer relief. And foreign workers are hesitant to provide additional funding to unknown local NGOs operating in Sudan. In some cases, refugees who have fled to neighboring states — many of which are already struggling with conflict, economic crises, or the risk of famine3 — found conditions so poor that they opted to return to Sudan. "It's mostly hunger that drives people to go back," one refugee told Voice of America, adding that if there were adequate tents, food, and water, there would be no need to return to their home country.4