Sudan stands at number one on the International Rescue Committee’s Emergency Watchlist for 2024. Each year the report anticipates which nations are most likely to see a worsening humanitarian crisis. Due to intensifying conflict, unprecedented displacement, an economic crisis and a lack of healthcare facilities Sudan leads the list. The crisis in Gaza is second.
Less than a year into the violent conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), over half the population requires humanitarian aid. 37% face food insecurity. Almost 10 million of the 49 million population are IDPs (Internally Displaced People), and over one million Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries since April.
In the Darfur region, human rights organisations have documented evidence of mass killings, rape and systematic forced displacement, often committed across ethnic divides. Between April and June 2023 RSF forces and allied Arab militiamen targeted areas of the West Darfur region inhabited by the Masalit, an African ethnic group.
Mahmoud Adam, a former interpreter with the African Union’s Darfur peacekeeping force, told the Guardian that when living by an RSF base in the city of El Geneina he would see the Arab militia arrive most mornings on horses and motorbikes before heading out to launch attacks on Masalit neighbours.“I would hear them talking about the number of people they had killed at the end of each day."
The International Rescue Committee now predicts that fighting — previously mostly limited to the Khartoum and Darfur regions — will increasingly spread to other parts of Sudan. The RSF seized Wad Madani, the country’s second city, at the end of last year.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Khartoum had sought refuge in Wad Madani. Upon attempting to flee the RSF again, many have been prevented from leaving.
Sudanese civilians are also increasingly picking up arms to fight the army and defend territories. Some do this by joining the SAF, a group relying on volunteers with little to no military training.
The committee also foresees secondary catastrophes in the form of outbreaks of measles and cholera, unable to be contained without a working healthcare system, and a sustained economic crisis marked by hyperinflation, a shortage of essential goods and an employment rate of 50%.
As it stands, Sudan is the country with the largest number of displaced people in the world. The International Rescue Committee’s analysts believe this to be only the beginning of an intensifying crisis: “There are limited prospects for an end to the conflict.”
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