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The Sudan Conflict: One Year On


April 15, 2024 • 4 min read

Today marks one year since conflict erupted in Sudan’s capital city of Khartoum, between two rival factions of Sudan’s military government - the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). We knew that the conflict would have dire consequences for civilians, and Sudanese society at large; but nobody could have predicted the extent of the horrors that would ultimately unfold. But despite this, Sudan is largely a forgotten war, ignored by international media.  

Record Displacement

One year on, intense shelling, airstrikes, and gunfire has driven an estimated 10 million people from their homes, including over 1.8 million people who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. As thousands of people cross the border into South Sudan, Chad, and Ethiopia every day, over 9 million people are internally displaced within Sudan.  

Civilian casualties are difficult to estimate, but it is expected that tens of thousands of innocent people have died. Reports of ethnic and tribal conflict are also increasing in frequency and severity, as the war continues to destabilise the country and intensify resource competition.   

This conflict is breaking horrifying records. Sudan is the world’s largest, and fastest growing, displacement crisis – surpassing Syria’s 7.2 million IDPs. It is also the world’s largest child displacement crisis. 4 million children in Sudan are displaced. UN Humanitarian Chief, Martin Griffith’s, warned that this conflict will certainly lead to a “lost generation of children,” with more than 19 million children out of school. 

The fighting has long expanded beyond Khartoum, the epicentre of the violence. There are now clashes and displacement in every state, including North Darfur and South Kordofan, where GOAL has been operational since 1985. Many families in these communities rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs. But the humanitarian situation in Sudan has since devolved into one of the most challenging operating environments in the world.  

Right now, a staggering 25 million people – 50% of Sudan’s population – are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, among them 14 million children whose futures hang by a thread. Getting aid to them is a significant challenge. 

Critical Infrastructure Destroyed

Critical civilian infrastructure, including roads and telecommunications networks, is being destroyed, making it difficult for humanitarian agencies to coordinate and deliver aid. Looting, robberies, carjackings, kidnappings, and indiscriminate violence against aid workers have also been reported.  

80% of all hospitals in Sudan are non-functional. Nearby gunfire has forced staff to flee, and shortages of supplies and recurrent lootings have forced other facilities to close or function at reduced capacity. 15 million people in Sudan no longer have access to healthcare.  

Meanwhile, water networks are being destroyed, forcing conflict-affected communities to collect water from contaminated wells and other unsafe sources. This has allowed diseases like cholera, measles, malaria, acute watery diarrhoea, dengue fever, and whooping cough to gain a foothold in many areas across the country.  

Famine Imminent

Displaced children are at an increased risk of malnutrition and disease. 3.7 million children in Sudan are estimated to be malnourished, including 730,000 who require urgent assistance. This number is likely to be higher, as cases of severe malnutrition among children are severely underreported. 

Of these children, more than 109,000 are likely to experience complex medical conditions at the same time, including dehydration, hypothermia and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Without intensive, specialised healthcare, these children will not survive. Without reliable access to food or medical care, approximately 222,000 severely malnourished children are expected to die in the coming months. 

GOAL’s Impact

Today marks one year of unspeakable human suffering; but it also marks one year since 125 GOALies in North Darfur and South Kordofan chose to not give up. GOAL teams continue to deliver life-saving aid, where possible, using funding from Irish Aid, USAID’s BHA (Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance) and ECHO (European Commission Humanitarian Aid). 

GOAL teams are:

  • Conducting mass MUAC (middle-upper arm circumference) screening in South Kordofan to identify malnutrition in children.
  • Re-stocking 47 health clinics with medicine and nutrition supplies, to prevent closures.
  • Procuring and transporting essential medications to GOAL-supported health clinics in South Kordofan and North Darfur.
  • Distributing multipurpose cash assistance to 1,500+ households in South Kordofan and North Darfur who have lost their livelihoods, amid record inflation.
  • Conducting medical and nutrition consultations from GOAL-supported health clinics in North Darfur.
  • Repairing damaged water networks and handpumps to prevent disease outbreaks. Recently, GOAL staff rehabilitated 6 handpumps in Birka Sira, North Darfur, restoring access to clean drinking water to approximately 3,000 people.

GOAL teams are also supporting Sudanese refugees, South Sudanese returnees, and vulnerable host communities in Chad and South Sudan, delivering food, nutrition, and WASH (water, sanitation, & hygiene) support, as well as non-food items such as jerricans, mosquito nets, solar lamps, cooking utensils, and hygiene kits.

One year on, GOAL stands in solidarity with the people of Sudan, including our 125 GOALies in North Darfur and South Kordofan, amid this forgotten war. We are part of the global community calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Sudan.  

Please support GOAL’s work in Sudan with a donation today.