Sudan facing catastrophic hunger crisis

  • Following continued violence since April 2023, Sudan now faces the most severe hunger levels ever witnessed during what should be the harvest season.
  • The IRC fears that seven million people could face extreme hunger by June 2024 lean season, causing extreme rates of illness and malnutrition.
  • We are calling for an urgent scale up of food and cash assistance, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene support to address this growing humanitarian crisis.
  • At the same time, parties to the conflict must grant humanitarian actors unfettered access to populations in need.
Read the February 13 press release.

Crisis briefing

Sudan is experiencing multiple challenges including an economic crisis, natural disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic, protracted refugee situations, and armed conflicts that have displaced people inside their own country. Inflation has caused the cost of food in Sudan to skyrocket and put other essentials out of reach of most people.

What caused the crisis in Sudan?

Two civil wars spanning decades of the country’s history—the Anyanya Rebellion and the Second Sudanese Civil War—caused mass displacement, injury and death. Today, many Sudanese remain displaced due to continued insecurity: Conflicts in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile persist at low levels and it is difficult to get humanitarian aid to the people who need it most. In addition, conflict in the neighboring Tigray region of Ethiopia has led to the flight of 60,000 refugees into eastern Sudan.

Extreme weather shocks such as drought and flooding have also devastated livelihoods and forced more people from their homes. Most Sudanese live in rural areas and depend on rain to raise crops and livestock. Swarms of locusts have descended on farmland, destroying harvests and contributing to the rising cost of food.

Even as the growing impact of climate change exacerbates the existing political and economic crisis in Sudan, the COVID-19 pandemic is also driving increased humanitarian need.

What are the main humanitarian challenges in Sudan?

Across Sudan there are an estimated 13.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, including 1.1 million refugees from other countries and 2.5 million Sudanese who have been displaced internally. 

Food insecurity remains high, particularly among refugees, internally displaced people and low-income urban households. Over 7 million people are unable to get sufficient food due to the economic crisis and disasters such as floods that have destroyed crops and displaced families. In  2020, the year-on-year inflation rate increased by 214%,  further reducing household purchasing power.

The COVID-19 pandemic and outbreaks of other diseases such as polio are putting pressure on Sudan’s health systems, even as tens of thousands of refugees arrive in the country  from Ethiopia.

How does the IRC help in Sudan?

In response to growing needs, the IRC has scaled up our capacity in Sudan and expanded humanitarian services in the east of the country in response to the Tigrayan refugee crisis. We: 

  • Established a main office in Khartoum to serve ongoing humanitarian needs in the Mayo community, which has been affected by conflict and poverty 
  • Launched health and water and sanitation services in Khartoum to serve urban displaced populations
  • Opened a field office in Gedaref to support Tigrayan refugees in eastern Sudan
  • Launched health, water and sanitation services as well as protection support and psychosocial services for women and children in Tunaydbah refugee camp
  • Built and rehabilitated health facilities providing reproductive health care, COVID-19 isolation and care, and treatment and prevention of other communicable diseases
  • Are raising community awareness of health services and water and sanitation facilities
  • Are supporting health ministry polio campaigns 
  • Are monitoring for COVID-19 cases and raising public awareness of how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus


What still needs to be done?

As the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Sudan grows and more refugees are expected to arrive from Ethiopia, the IRC is looking to scale up our current support, add new services—for example, increasing support for women affected by gender-based violence—and expand to other parts of the country.