Nairobi, Kenya, May 3, 2023 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns that the ongoing fighting in Sudan, which began on 15 April, and has displaced almost 400,000 people might get worse if nothing is done to foster peace. An estimated 334,000 have been displaced within Sudan itself with almost 65,000 estimated to have moved over borders as refugees.
Shashwat Saraf, IRC Emergency Director for East Africa, said,
"When people become displaced, whether within a country or over borders, they require support as they carry very little provisions with them. There are also millions still caught up in the conflict who have been unable to move. Before the fighting began, humanitarian needs across Sudan had already reached record levels, with 15.8 million people requiring humanitarian assistance this year. The latest violence has led to acute shortages of food, water, medicines, and fuel, while the price of essential items has significantly increased."
With almost 15,000 people fleeing to South Sudan, 88% of whom are returnees, and almost 7,000 to Ethiopia, these countries are already struggling following ongoing conflict and the failure of six rainy seasons, leaving millions of people food insecure. A further 30,000 people have fled over the border into east Chad which was already hosting 400,000 refugees before the current escalation of violence in Sudan on 15 April. Humanitarian activities in many Sudanese states have been interrupted due to widespread violence and insecurity, exacerbating protection risks faced by those who rely on humanitarian assistance to survive.
The only way to stop the growing displacement is to stop the violence. Global leaders should bring the warring parties to the table to end the fights and get the political transition back on track. As part of this process, it is critical to re-establish the Sudanese people’s right to aid by ensuring humanitarian access to people in need. Time is of the essence to deliver humanitarian funding to frontline responders, including NGOs, women-led organizations, and local civil society. In addition to supporting humanitarian operations in Sudan, more support is needed for refugee-hosting communities in South Sudan, Chad, and Ethiopia.
IRC is running critical programs in Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Central Africa Republic and Ethiopia, despite very limited funding, to help people survive, recover, and gain control of their lives. East Africa is home to some of the IRC's longest-running programs globally, with operations in Somalia for over 40 years, Kenya for 30 years, and Ethiopia for 20 years. Today, over 2,000 IRC staff in the region are scaling up programs to address the current drought and rising food insecurity, including expanding to new areas to meet severe needs.