By Ian Timberlake
KHARTOUM, March 18, 2014 (AFP) – The number of Sudanese in need of aid has risen 40 percent over the past year, boosted by worsening conflict in the country, United Nations humanitarian operations director John Ging said yesterday.
He said 6.1 million people need assistance in Sudan — an increase of over 40 percent since this time last year. “There’s a huge need here, and unfortunately, given the increases in conflict, it is growing.”
Half of those in need are in the conflict-plagued Darfur region, where more than 100,000 people have fled their homes this year. That is on top of at least 380,000 people displaced last year, with a total of about two million now dislocated after more than a decade of conflict, Ging said.
“We’re worried that this is adding to a very large number who have been displaced for a very long time.”
Elsewhere in Sudan, the government and rebels have been fighting for almost three years in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The war there has displaced or otherwise affected an estimated 1.2 million people, the UN has said previously.
Conflict is partly responsible for an estimated 38 percent drop in cereal production in Sudan compared to a five-year average, Dominique Burgeon of the Food and Agriculture Organisation said. This has led to food shortages for 3.3 million people “and this number is expected to increase”.
Sudanese children, even those who are not displaced, are in “dire” circumstances especially because of nutritional deficiency, said Yasmin Haque of Unicef. Estimates say more than 500,000 youngsters are going to face acute malnutrition and 30 percent of children are not in school.
The UN has appealed to donors for $995 million to fund aid operations in Sudan this year. So far it has obtained $77 million.