Sudan: Sundan’s War Risks Creating World’s Largest Hunger Crisis, Warns WFP Chief

Juba — Sudan’s war has shattered millions of lives and created the world’s largest displacement crisis. Now this catastrophe also risks becoming the world’s largest hunger crisis, unless fighting stops, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Cindy McCain warns today as she concludes a visit to South Sudan, where she met families fleeing violence and an escalating hunger emergency in Sudan.

“The war in Sudan risks triggering the world’s largest hunger crisis,” warned the Executive Director. “20 years ago, Darfur was the world’s largest hunger crisis and the world rallied to respond. But today, the people of Sudan have been forgotten. Millions of lives and the peace and stability of an entire region are at stake.”

Over 25 million people across Sudan, South Sudan, and Chad are trapped in a spiral of deteriorating food security. WFP is unable to get sufficient emergency food assistance to desperate communities in Sudan who are trapped by fighting because of the relentless violence and interference by the warring parties. Right now, 90 per cent of people facing emergency levels of hunger in Sudan are stuck in areas that are largely inaccessible to WFP.

Humanitarian assistance has been further disrupted after authorities revoked permissions for cross-border truck convoys, forcing WFP to halt its operations from Chad into Darfur. Over one million people in West and Central Darfur had received WFP assistance via this life-line route since August, and WFP was in the process of scaling up to support that number each month as hunger and malnutrition continue to skyrocket in Darfur.

Meanwhile, more and more people flee into South Sudan and Chad and the humanitarian response is at breaking point. Executive Director McCain travelled to Renk in eastern South Sudan where almost 600,000 people have crossed from Sudan in the last 10 months. The WFP chief visited the crowded transit camps where families arrive hungry and are met with more hunger.

Newly arrived displaced people in South Sudan make up 35 percent of those facing catastrophic levels of hunger – the highest possible level – despite accounting for less than 3 percent of the population. Additionally, one in five children at the transit centres at the main border crossing is malnourished. With current resources, WFP is struggling to keep pace with the significant level of need.

“I met mothers and children who have fled for their lives not once, but multiple times, and now hunger is closing in on them,” said the Executive Director. “The consequences of inaction go far beyond a mother unable to feed her child and will shape the region for years to come.  Today I am making an urgent plea for the fighting to stop, and that all humanitarian agencies must be allowed to do their life-saving work.”

WFP urgently needs unimpeded access in Sudan to address the escalating food insecurity, which will have significant long-term impacts on the region, along with an injection of funding to respond to the spread of the humanitarian crisis to neighbouring countries. Ultimately, a cessation of hostilities and lasting peace is the only way to reverse course and prevent catastrophe.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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