The war that erupted in Sudan in April between the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces continues without any resolution in sight. Such protracted conflicts often have long-term consequences that can be catastrophic and result in an existential crisis not only for the affected country but also for other countries in the region. That’s why it is crucial for media, researchers, politicians, and policy analysts to raise awareness of the severity of this issue.
More dangerous crises
The international newspaper “Arab News” confirmed that the armed conflict has displaced more than 5 million people from all 18 states of Sudan as they attempted to flee violence. According to the latest statistics, over 4 million people have been internally displaced, while more than a million have fled the country. The highest concentrations of those leaving their homes are from the following states: Nile River (15%), Northern (11%), North Darfur (9%), and White Nile (9%).
It is also important to note that prior to the current conflict, Sudan was among the top ten countries in the world in hosting refugees. These individuals came from countries including Ethiopia, Syria, and Eritrea. As a result, the armed conflict not only forces Sudanese to leave their homes but is likely to also compel asylum seekers and refugees from other countries to leave as well, making the refugee crisis in the region even more perilous.
Among the countries that have received a large number of Sudanese refugees is Chad, with other recipient countries including South Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, and Libya. Those who arrive in neighboring countries to Sudan undergo a harrowing and challenging journey.
Pierre Honoreat, the Qatar country director for the World Food Programme in Chad, described the situation while speaking to journalists via Zoom from the Zabuut refugee camp in Kouz Beida in July, saying, “We see that they have suffered; they have lost many family members, and we dare not even ask them, ‘Where are the men?’ Often, mothers’ response is that they were killed. Therefore, many women and children are seen.”
A step away from famine
The international newspaper emphasized that in such a widespread crisis of displacement and refuge, women, children, and the wounded are among the most vulnerable groups. They require medical care and basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), nearly 90% of Sudanese arriving in Chad are women and children. An analysis conducted by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification in August showed that more than 6 million Sudanese are now just one step away from famine.
This means that if the necessary funding is not provided to meet their basic needs by the international community, there could be a humanitarian catastrophe that may affect communities and countries for generations to come. The countries hosting Sudanese refugees are already suffering from their social and economic crises.
The international newspaper emphasized that global assistance in the areas of food, nutrition, primary healthcare, mental health, and child health services is of paramount importance to prevent deaths, suffering, and further infectious diseases and other illnesses. “Every week, children die in nutrition centers; this is a fact,” said Honoreat. The rate of malnutrition among children is currently extremely high, and we must be extremely proactive to ensure that those suffering from what we call moderate to severe malnutrition can urgently receive what they need to avoid acute malnutrition.”
In other words, for Sudanese refugees, escaping conflict and reaching a neighboring country does not mean that their problems have ended.
The countries hosting Sudanese refugees are facing their social and economic crises. For example, while Chad welcomes Sudanese refugees, many of whom come from Darfur, it is grappling with multifaceted crises and financial problems. Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world and had already hosted over half a million Sudanese refugees before the conflict erupted in April.
Most Sudanese refugees in Chad live in refugee camps and host communities.