War in Sudan | A risk of “catastrophic” famine between April and July, according to the WHO

(Geneva) Conflict areas of Sudan risk experiencing a “catastrophic” famine between April and July, the “lean” period between two harvests, while millions of people there are already struggling to feed themselves, warned Tuesday World Health Organization (WHO).

Peter Graaff, WHO’s acting representative in Sudan, warned that a “veritable storm” was brewing with people weakened by hunger falling victim to infectious diseases, while the health system virtually collapsed amid ongoing fighting in the country.

“There is a fear that the upcoming lean season could lead to catastrophic levels of hunger in the worst-affected areas,” he said via video link from Cairo.

The lean period, that is to say the one just before the first harvests and where the grain from the previous harvest is exhausted, which extends from April to July, sees the prices of foodstuffs skyrocket as as stocks decrease.

The war, which broke out in April 2023 between Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, his former deputy and commander of the paramilitary rapid support forces, has left thousands dead and triggered a humanitarian catastrophe .

Around 25 million people, or more than half the population, are in need of assistance, with almost 18 million facing acute food insecurity, according to UN figures.

Five million are already in a hunger emergency, Graaff said.

Undernourished children are at increased risk of dying from diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia and measles, especially in a context where they lack access to vital health services.

“The health system is barely functional…and infectious diseases are spreading: more than 10,000 cases of cholera have been reported, 5,000 cases of measles, around 8,000 cases of dengue and more than 1.2 million clinical cases of malaria », detailed Mr. Graaff.

The fighting has caused 1.8 million people to flee the country and 6.1 million are internally displaced.

“I witnessed first-hand the displacements in Sudan and neighboring Chad. And what I saw was alarming and heartbreaking,” Graaff continued, describing people forced to walk for days, eventually finding shelter in crowded areas with little food and water.

“The people of Sudan face a life or death situation due to persistent violence, insecurity and limited access to essential health services,” Graaff said.

“And there appears to be little hope of a political solution in sight.”

He called for safe and unhindered access to deliver vital health services.

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