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Sudan's civil war enters its first year: Famine looms large

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One year on from the start of Sudan's civil war, which has killed thousands and forced 8 million people to flee their homes, a lack of aid combined with precarious conditions has pushed its people to the edge of famine.

The war broke out in mid-April last year when simmering tensions between the country’s military, chaired by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the notorious Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, imploded into street clashes in Khartoum before spreading elsewhere across the North-eastern African country.

Eighteen months before the war, both Burhan and Dagalo led a military coup and plunged the country into chaos. They toppled an internationally recognized civilian government that was supposed to steer the country’s democratic transition after the 2019 military overthrow of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir amid a popular uprising against his three-decade of Islamist-backed rule.

The coup and the war were a major blow to Sudanese’s hopes for a democratic rule after decades of military and Islamist rule that turned Sudan into a parish state for decades.

Since October, as the conflict has been overshadowed by the bloody war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza Strip and global attention has been shifted, displaced Sudanese people have been fighting for survival.

In Omdurman, Sudan's second most populous city, displaced people have been living in a former school building in makeshift shelters.

Seham Saleh said she has struggled to adequately feed the camp's children, with the only foodstuffs available being "lentils, rice, porridge".

"Thanks to God, there’s now an organization that provides meals and supplements for children below 5 years old," she said.

Meanwhile, farmers across the nation are grappling with a lack of resources and funding, hindering agricultural production. Rising fertilizer costs, plummeting crop prices, and insufficient irrigation exacerbate their plight, leaving many in desperate need.

The stories of Sudan's displaced population paint a harrowing picture of the war's impact. Families forced to flee their homes recount tales of indiscriminate violence, including bombings, killings, displacement, and starvation, along with horrifying instances of sexual violence and ethnic attacks in Darfur.

In the midst of this turmoil, humanitarian aid is crucial, yet access remains limited in many areas. Seham Saleh, a displaced Sudanese, highlights the plight of children facing malnutrition due to inadequate food supplies. She expresses gratitude for organizations providing food supplements to children under five years old, offering a glimmer of hope amidst the devastation.

Khalil Serebal, President of the Sudanese Red Crescent, emphasizes the urgent need for aid distribution in the most affected regions, including Khartoum and West Darfur. Relief efforts encompass medical support, psychological assistance, and environmental initiatives to address the multifaceted challenges facing Sudan's population.

The situation has been horrific in western region of Darfur, where sexual violence and ethnic attacks on African tribes’ areas allegedly by the RSF and their allied Arab militias are rampant. The International Criminal Court said it was investigating fresh allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the region, which was the scene of genocidal war in the 2000s.

The World Health Organization said about 3.5 million children aged under 5 years have acute malnutrition - more than 710,000 of whom have severe acute malnutrition.

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