On Saturday April 15 fighting broke out in Khartoum, Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The clashes have led to the deaths of 100 people and left nearly 1100 injured.

Elsewhere in the country, four humanitarian workers were killed and two others were seriously injured in an attack in Darfur. As a result, the International Rescue Committee has suspended its operations throughout the country, with the exception of Tunaydbah refugee camp, in Gedaref state, where we continue to provide life saving services to the refugee population.

“Conflict has disrupted humanitarian action where over a third of the population, an estimated 15 million people including refugees, are experiencing acute food insecurity,” said Kurt Tjossem, the IRC’s vice president in East Africa. The IRC is calling for all sides to address outstanding issues and bring an end to the ongoing fighting.

Sudan was already facing a humanitarian crisis, with extreme weather shocks, social and political unrest and rising food prices driving poverty, hunger and displacement. Across the country around 2.4 million people are currently displaced due to flooding and conflict. Below, learn more about the situation.

A woman from the Beja tribe woman in Port Sudan, the capital of the Red Sea State in eastern Sudan.
A woman from the Beja tribe woman in Port Sudan, the capital of the Red Sea State in eastern Sudan.
Photo: Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images

What do the people of Sudan face today?

Political tensions and instability

Since a military coup in October 2021, Sudan has been run by a council of generals. In July 2022, given heightened public distrust of the military, the de-facto Sudanese head of state announced that he would withdraw from political talks and support the formation of a technocratic cabinet. But the current violence was sparked by a disagreement over the integration of the RSF into the military as part of this transition towards civilian rule. 

“The killing of humanitarian workers and scores of Sudanese is unacceptable,” Tjossem said. “The IRC calls upon all sides to work without delay to address outstanding issues with a view to achieving a lasting, inclusive political peace.”

Ongoing intercommunal violence

Continued conflict, often along communal lines but influenced by the agendas of local influential and political figures, has caused further displacement and insecurity in border regions of Sudan. Limited state authority and unresolved local disputes over land and natural resources in Darfur, Kordofan and Kassala drove increased fighting throughout 2022. 

The rise in violence in the Blue Nile state has displaced 97,000 people since July 2022, while a similar situation displaced 21,000 people in West Kordofan in October.

People in Tunaydbah camp in Sudan sit on benches while one man kneels in front of them.
Political unrest drives people away from their homes and into places like Tunaydbah camp in Sudan.
Photo: Khalid Alarabi/IRC

Climate change increasing frequency of extreme weather

Sudan is experiencing substantially warmer and drier weather, with shorter rainy periods reducing crop production and erratic rainfall also making flooding more likely. Most Sudanese live in rural areas and depend on rain to raise crops and livestock.

In the second half of 2020, at least 111,000 houses were either destroyed or severely damaged by floodwater, while the number of people critically affected exceeded 770,000. Nearly 16,000 latrines were destroyed and the collapse of the Bout Dam hindered access to water to more than 100,000 people in Blue Nile State. All 18 States of the country were affected.

Unusually heavy rains have also resulted in the worst desert locust infestation seen across the horn of Africa in decades. Loss of crops and rising food prices have made it increasingly difficult for families to put food on the table each day.

A woman wades through flood water in Managil city.
A woman wades through flood water in Managil city in al-Gezira state, east-central Sudan. In July 2022, the country declared a state of emergency due to floods in six states, including River Nile.
Photo: Ebrahim Hamid/AFP via Getty Images

Deepening economic crisis

Sudan is facing a multitude of economic pressures: a high inflation rate, extremely low foreign reserves and the international community’s suspension of foreign debt relief programs. Though the inflation rate is predicted to fall to 115.7% in 2023 from 236.4% in 2022, this still reflects very rapidly growing prices. 

Sudan imports 80% of its wheat from Russia, making it particularly impacted by the ripple effects from the war in Ukraine. Financial donors suspended Sudan’s debt removal program when the military took power, meaning an agreement to write off $14 billion in debt and cancel $9 billion more in the future is no longer going ahead. 

On top of this, cooperation between the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the current authorities remains suspended. Against this backdrop, the economic crisis is likely to grow throughout 2023: food and transportation costs may rise further, and medicine, energy and imported goods will likely face shortages.

Growing refugee population from Ethiopia

Following ongoing conflict in the Tigray region, over 70,000 refugees have fled over the border from Ethiopia to Eastern Sudan. Thirty one percent of the refugees are children, with a high volume of unaccompanied minors who have often experienced trauma and abuse on their journey to Sudan. People need vital support including food, protection and healthcare.

Children play together at Tunaydbah camp, Sudan.
10-year old Mirkha playing football with his best friend Hafton and some other children in Tunaydbah camp, Sudan. Hafton and Mirkha are refugees from Tigray who fled to Sudan in search of safety. The boys attend the IRC's EU-funded safe spaces in the camp, and became friends through playing football together.
Photo: Khalid Alarabi

How is the IRC helping in Sudan?

Note: Due to attacks on humanitarian workers, the IRC has paused our operations throughout the country, except for Tunaydbah in Gedaref State where we continue to provide services to the refugee population.

The IRC works across four states in Sudan, supporting people impacted by conflict and crisis, including women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, refugees and host communities. This includes:

Learn more about the IRC’s Sudan response.

How can I help?

Donate now to support the IRC's life-changing work in Sudan and worldwide. We are on the frontlines providing critical aid to crisis-affected people in more than 40 countries, including places on the 2023 Emergency Watchlist.