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US ramps up Sudan aid, warning of historic famine

By AFP
Sudan Sudanese refugees gather to fill cans with water in the Farchana refugee camp in Chad on April 8, 2024.  By Joris Bolomey (AFP/File)
FRI, 14 JUN 2024 LISTEN
Sudanese refugees gather to fill cans with water in the Farchana refugee camp in Chad on April 8, 2024. By Joris Bolomey (AFP/File)

The United States on Friday announced $315 million in emergency aid for hungry Sudanese and pressed the warring sides for humanitarian access, warning that a famine of historic proportions could be unfolding.

The assistance will include food and drinking water as well as malnutrition emergency screening and treatment for children. It comes as estimates say that five million people inside Sudan suffer extreme hunger, with food lacking also in neighboring countries where two million Sudanese have fled.

"We need the world to wake up to the catastrophe happening before our very eyes," Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters.

"We've seen mortality projections estimating that in excess of 2.5 million people -- about 15 percent of the population -- in Darfur and Kordofan, the hardest-hit regions, could die by the end of September," she said.

"This is the largest humanitarian crisis on the face of the planet, and yet somehow it threatens to get worse as the rainy season approaches."

A UN humanitarian appeal for Sudan has received only 16 percent of its target, with much global attention focused instead on Gaza, where aid workers have also warned of famine risks.

Samantha Power, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said Sudan could be in worse shape than Somalia in 2011 when some 250,000 people died after three consecutive seasons without enough rain in a country grappling with near anarchy.

"The most worrying scenario would be that Sudan would become the deadliest famine since Ethiopia in the early 1980s," when as many as 1.2 million people died, she said.

Sudan descended into war in April 2023 when the generals in charge of the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces took up arms to seize control, rejecting a plan to integrate.

With the two sides battling for power across the country, Power said that deliveries of aid across the rival sides' lines of control was "virtually non-existent."

Power strongly criticized both sides. The Rapid Support Forces, she said, have been "systematically looting humanitarian warehouses, stealing food and livestock, destroying grain storage facilities and wells in the most vulnerable Sudanese communities."

The army, in turn "completely contradicts its commitments and its responsibility" to the Sudanese people by blocking aid from crossing the border with Chad into Darfur, she said.

"The really clear message here is that it is obstruction, not insufficient stocks of food, that is the driving force behind the historic and deadly levels of starvation in Sudan," she said.

"That has to change immediately."

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024

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