UN Says 5 Million at Risk of Starvation in Sudan

United Nations — The United Nations appealed Friday for Sudan’s battling factions to allow delivery of humanitarian relief to fend off looming catastrophic hunger.

About 5 million Sudanese could face calamitous food insecurity in coming months as a nearly yearlong war between rival generals continues to tear the country apart, according to a U.N. document seen Friday by AFP.

The war between army chief Abdel Fattah Burhan and his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, has since April last year killed tens of thousands, destroyed infrastructure and crippled the economy.

It also has triggered a dire humanitarian crisis and acute food shortages, with the country teetering on the brink of famine.

Noting that 18 million Sudanese are facing acute food insecurity — a record during harvest season — U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths warned in a letter to the Security Council that “almost 5 million people could slip into catastrophic food insecurity in some parts of the country in the coming months.”

He noted that nearly 730,000 Sudanese children, including more than 240,000 in Darfur, are thought to suffer from severe malnutrition.

“Aid organizations require safe, rapid, sustained and unimpeded access, including across conflict lines within Sudan,” said U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ spokesman, Stephane Dujarric. “A massive mobilization of resources from the international community is also critical.”

The U.N.’s World Food Program has warned that the war risks “triggering the world’s largest hunger crisis.”

Jill Lawler, the emergency chief in Sudan for the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, said there were enough aid stocks in Port Sudan, but the problem was getting the aid from there to the people in need.

Lawler said that last week that she led the first U.N. mission to reach Khartoum state since war erupted 11 months ago.

They had seen firsthand that “the scale and magnitude of needs for children across the country are simply staggering,” she told reporters in Geneva via video link from New York.

The war “is pushing the country towards a famine” with hunger “the number one concern people expressed.”

Mandeep O’Brien, UNICEF representative in Sudan, said 14 million children needed humanitarian aid and 4 million were displaced.

There was only a “small window left to prevent mass loss of children’s lives and future,” she warned on X, formerly known as Twitter.

World Health Organization regional director Hanan Balkhy, who recently returned from Sudan, underlined the acute needs in Darfur, saying most health facilities had been looted, damaged or destroyed.

Griffiths, the U.N. aid chief, lamented that fighting continued to rage during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan despite a Security Council resolution calling for a cessation of hostilities.

“This is a moment of truth,” he wrote on X. “The parties must silence the guns, protect civilians and ensure humanitarian access.”

The U.N. on Friday called for more financial support for aid operations in Sudan.

U.N. spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci told reporters in Geneva that the world body had appealed for $2.7 billion to provide aid this year but had received 5% of that amount so far.

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