Violent armed clashes broke out in Khartoum on 15 April between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). These clashes quickly spread to the periphery with other actors getting involved, including in Darfur and in South Kordofan.
The conflict is fluid and unpredictable. Warring parties are using heavy weapons in densely populated areas, with devastating consequences for civilians. In July 2023, the International Criminal Court opened an investigation on the allegations of international crimes committed in Darfur.
This development comes following a prolonged political gridlock after the 2021 military coup. Prior to the outbreak of violence, the political, security and economic instability, combined with a poor harvest, had already led to the worst humanitarian crisis in a decade.
The ongoing conflict will further exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and create new ones. The EU has stepped up its humanitarian aid to support the most vulnerable.
What are the needs?
The conflict has caused immense suffering among civilians. However, due to the extreme violence and limited communication and access, trying to calculate the exact number of human casualties is nearly impossible. Violations of international human rights law and International Humanitarian Law have been reported by all parties to the conflict.
In 2023, Sudan has become the second most dangerous place for humanitarians in the world, with at least 19 aid workers killed. Medical staff and infrastructure are also increasingly targeted with 56 attacks verified by the World Health Organization since 15 April.
Throughout the country, 80% of health facilities in conflict-affected areas are considered out of service due to targeted attacks, occupation, looting of medicines and supplies and overall lack of medical staff and supplies.
The disruption of basic public health services, coupled with the start of the rainy season and the lack of access to water and sanitation systems, leads to disease outbreaks. This includes malaria, measles, dengue and acute watery diarrhoea, diseases that had previously been under control.
Shortages of food, clean water, medicines, cash and fuel, along with limited communications and electricity, are reported throughout the country.
The conflict has also triggered massive needs for protection, including for mental health and psychosocial support, sexual and gender-based violence services and child protection.
Around 8.6 million children urgently need humanitarian assistance for their education, and that is 5 million more than before the conflict started in April 2023. There are also growing reports of unexploded ordnance in Khartoum and in several other urban areas.
The conflict is resulting in large waves of forced displacements, with over 5 million displaced people reported so far. Out of these:
- Over 4 million people, including at least 2 million children according to UNICEF, are internally displaced.
- Over 1 million people have fled outside Sudan. The vast majority are women and children in extreme vulnerability, who represent over 90% of the arrivals in CAR and Chad.
Most of those displaced across Sudan or in neighbouring countries are in very dire need of protection and basichumanitarian assistance, including food, water, shelter, health services, including mental health and psychosocial services.
Beyond the large-scale displacement across borders, the increase in armed actors and attacks along the border areas is a serious threat to the regional security. Sudan’s neighbouring countries are also facing their own internal challenges.
In addition to the conflict, the rainy season is impacting areas hosting large numbers of displaced persons in Sudan and the region. This is making it even harder to reach remote communities.
Meanwhile, a heat wave is affecting Egypt and the North of Sudan, leaving thousands of people waiting to cross the border stranded.
Overall needs prior to April 2023
Prior to the ongoing conflict, the number of people requiring assistance had risen for the 5th year in a row, to reach 15.8 million, 1/3 of the population. This 3 times the number it was in 2017.
The growing humanitarian needs in the country were driven by:
- a fragile political situation,
- continued economic decline and inflation,
- increased insecurity and violence in the periphery,
- protracted and new displacements,
- floods, dry spells and disease outbreaks.
Food insecurity was at the highest levels in a decade, with 11.7 million people (1/4 of the population) facing acute hunger. Sudan had one of the highest numbers of people in the emergency level of food insecurity (IPC4), with 3.1 million people affected.
Over 3 million children under 5 suffered from acute malnutrition, of which 650 000 from severe acute malnutrition.
There were around 3.8 million internally displaced persons, including more than 418 000 newly displaced in 2022, fleeing conflict and tribal clashes and floods or fire.
Sudan hosted more than 1.1 million refugees – one of the highest numbers in Africa – and almost all required humanitarian assistance.
The country’s political instability had led to a drastic reduction in the country’s financial capacity to respond to the growing needs and ensure essential services. The donor base was reduced, and the gap between humanitarian needs and available resources was widening.
The operating environment for humanitarian organisations was already increasingly restrictive which undermined the effectiveness and efficiency of programmes and delayed the delivery of assistance and services to those in need.
Since the outbreak of the conflict in April 2023, it is estimated that about 25 million people, including 13 million children, urgently need humanitarian assistance in the country, representing over half of Sudan’s inhabitants.
How are we helping?
Latest emergency response
The EU strongly urges all parties to the conflict to fully comply with international humanitarian law, including protection of civilians and humanitarian space.
The safety and security of aid workers, premises, and assets must be guaranteed so that they can provide emergency assistance to those affected, including:
- waiving travel restrictions for humanitarian personnel and granting travel permits to move beyond Port Sudan
- providing aid workers with immediate safe passage and guarantees for access and movement by road and air
- fast-tracking visa applications to allow for the scaling up of humanitarian operations
- easing customs restrictions to expedite imports of operational supplies, which are also critical
- ensuring the safe movements of humanitarian staff and supplies without imposing armed escorts, which are putting their security, independence, and neutrality at risk.
Following the start of the conflict, the EU mobilised funding from its Emergency Toolbox and allocated €800,000 in support of the Sudanese Red Crescent, the Egyptian Red Crescent, the Ethiopian Red Cross and the South Sudanese Red Cross.
EU-funded humanitarian programmes are being adapted, where needed, to the new situation. We also provided €350,000 for immediate emergency assistance to refugees fleeing to Chad.
Between May and July, the EU delivered around 400 tonnes of humanitarian supplies through 6 air bridge flights to Sudan and 3 air bridge flights to Chad.
At the beginning of the crisis, we dispatched humanitarian experts to the border areas with Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan to assess the situation, challenges, gaps and needs.
In Adré, Chad, the rehabilitation and extension of an airstrip is ongoing. An EHRC storage capacity has been made available to humanitarian partners. The EU Humanitarian Aid Flight operations, making available helicopter flights to humanitarian partners to eastern Chad, is ongoing.
EU humanitarian aid in the country
In 2023, the EU has mobilised over €126 million for the humanitarian response in Sudan.
The initial allocation for Sudan was €73 million. In response to the conflict, we allocated additional €60 million in funding (€52 million for Sudan, €7 million for Chad, and €1 million for South Sudan). This is on top of the funding to the various Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies, provided at the start of the crisis, mentioned above.
The Commission’s total contribution for the response to the Sudan crisis in Chad is €18.6 million.
At a pledging conference in June 2023, the EU and its Member States pledged €272.5 million in humanitarian, development cooperation and stabilisation funds.
EU humanitarian aid provides communities with health and nutritional care, cash, food assistance, water and sanitation, shelter, protection, and education to the most vulnerable households – internally displaced, refugee families and host communities.
The EU also contributes to the nutritional treatment and care of children under 5 and pregnant or breastfeeding women across Sudan.
Since 2013, the EU has mobilised almost €700 million in lifesaving assistance to people affected by conflict, food shortages and malnutrition, natural hazards or disease outbreaks.
The EU continues to promote compliance with international humanitarian law for unhindered and safe access for humanitarian aid and the protection of civilians.
Last updated: 15/09/2023
Facts & figures
24.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance (as of 17/05/2023)
20.3 million people projected to be in acute food insecurity (IPC phase 3 or above) between July and September 2023
More than 5.1 million newly displaced since 15/04/2023: (as of 05/09/2023)
- Over 4 million internally displaced people
- 1.1 million cross-border movements
Pre crisis, Sudan already hosted 3.8 million internally displaced persons and over 1.1 million refugees
EU humanitarian funding:
Over €126 million in 2023
Almost €700 million since 2013