A third of Sudan’s population is currently facing a food crisis due to the compounded impact of climate shocks, political turmoil and rising global food prices, the UN food agency said Thursday. A joint report by the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation said that 15 million people face acute food insecurity across all of the East African country’s 18 provinces. “The combined effects of conflict, climate shocks, economic and political crises, rising costs and poor harvests are pushing millions of people deeper into hunger and poverty,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP’s representative in Sudan.
Living conditions rapidly deteriorated across cash-strapped Sudan since an October military coup sent an already fragile economy into free fall, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine compounding the economic pain. Funding levels fall short of meeting humanitarian needs in Sudan, where 40% of the population is expected to slip into food insecurity by September, the report said. “We must act now to avoid increasing hunger levels and to save the lives of those already affected,” Rowe said.
The Oct 25 military takeover upended Sudan’s transition to democratic rule after three decades of repression and international isolation under autocratic President Omar al-Bashir. Sudan has been on a fragile path to democracy since a popular uprising forced the military to remove al-Bashir and his Islamist government in April 2019.
There have been weekly protests calling for the military to step down since the October coup. On Thursday, hundreds again marched toward the government headquarters in the capital of Khartoum. The Central Sudan Doctors’ Committee, which keeps track of protester deaths, said one demonstrator died from injuries sustained from security forces firing into the crowd.
The group said that Thursday’s death brings the number of protesters killed since the coup to 102. The coup also stalled two years of efforts by the deposed civilian government to overhaul the economy with billions of dollars in loans and aid from major Western governments and international financial institutions. Such support was suspended after the coup.
The report noted that the West Darfur town of Kreinik, where tribal clashes claimed more than 200 lives in April, stands out as the most affected, with 90% of the townspeople facing hunger.
Sudan was plunged into an economic crisis when the oil-rich south seceded in 2011 after decades of civil war, taking with it more than half of public revenues and 95% of exports. It became an international pariah after it was placed on the US list of state sponsors of terror early in the 1990s, excluding it from the global economy and preventing loans from global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.
Former President Donald Trump removed Sudan from the blacklist after the transitional government agreed to pay $335 million in compensation for victims of attacks carried out by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network while the terror leader was living in Sudan. The removal also was an incentive for Sudan to normalise ties with Israel.