The past year has seen political changes and reforms in Sudan that should result in a better future for its citizens. However, the country is still reeling from the effects of decades of conflict, a poor state of basic essential services for the people, and a failing economy. The global coronavirus pandemic is further straining an already fragile social and health infrastructure. The EU continues to support aid organisations on the ground to bring life-saving relief assistance to the most vulnerable people.
High food prices, cash and fuel shortages and disruption of basic services have left vulnerable people struggling, especially internally displaced people and refugees. 9.6 million people are experiencing food shortages and need humanitarian assistance. Undernutrition rates in the country are among the highest in the world: according to UNICEF, 2.4 million children (1 in 6) and mothers suffer from acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition. Sudan has not been spared from the desert locust swarms in the region that are ravaging crops and harvests and putting further strains on food availability.
In August, heavy rainfall and flooding affecting 18 states left over 770,000 people displaced. With the Nile river having risen the highest in 100 years, over 111,000 homes have been destroyed and the Government has declared a three-month State of Emergency and designating the country a natural hazard zone.
Sudan hosts more than 3.74 million displaced people, either from within Sudan itself or from other countries, mainly South Sudan. Resources in the hosting areas are overstretched, food supplies are running short and education and health services are under-resourced.
Organisations are reporting shortages of essential medicines across the country, while the coronavirus pandemic is bringing further challenges to Sudan’s weak health system.
In 2020, the EU has so far allocated €61.6 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan. This is twice the contribution made early this year due to the dramatic deterioration of the situation in the country. €1 million was already allocated in September to respond to devastating floods, to assist affected and displaced families’ immediate needs. Since 2011, the EU has allocated more than €580 million in life-saving assistance to people in Sudan affected by conflict, food shortages and malnutrition, natural hazards or disease outbreaks. This amount includes funding that the European Commission proposed recently to provide further food assistance, especially in the context of the desert locust outbreak in the region, to increase access to health care for vulnerable people, including those affected by the coronavirus and to respond to new emergencies.
The overall humanitarian response in Sudan continues to address the most critical needs despite numerous challenges, such as the lack of emergency response capacity. Alongside its humanitarian partners, the EU supports a principled and needs-based approach in Sudan aimed at reaching the most vulnerable people. EU humanitarian aid provides communities with health and nutritional care, food assistance, water and sanitation, shelter, protection, and education.
The bulk of EU’s humanitarian aid funding for 2020 goes to food assistance and nutritional care. It supports the most vulnerable households – mostly internally displaced and refugee families - that are struggling to get enough food to meet their needs. The EU also contributes to the nutritional treatment and care of children under 5 years of age, and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers across Sudan. In refugee hosting areas, EU funds support registration, reception and basic services. They also help with the screening for malnutrition, diseases and possible protection needs, together with the subsequent referral of people in need of special help.
Given the new challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, EU-funded humanitarian projects in Sudan are adopting measures and adapting existing ones within their projects to help beneficiaries and staff keep safe while continuing to provide life-saving assistance to vulnerable communities. Actions already focusing on the health sector will continue helping local health centres in providing access to health care and in epidemics control and prevention. The EU is, in addition, supporting the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) actions in the country on detection and response measures to the coronavirus pandemic. The EU also operated 2 Humanitarian Aid Bridge flights to Sudan to help relief items and humanitarian workers reach the people in need in Sudan, at a time where transport restrictions have held up commercial flights.
To increase people’s access to long-term social protection in Sudan, the EU funds development assistance to help communities build resilience. The EU continues to promote the respect of international humanitarian law in the country, allowing unhindered and safe access for humanitarian aid and the protection of civilians.