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Sudan teeters on the brink of collapse and famine on the first anniversary of civil war

(CNN) — As Sudan marks the grim anniversary of a year-long conflict, aid agencies warn that the country is teetering on the brink of collapse, facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis that has been largely ignored by the rest of the world.

Islamic Relief, a humanitarian and development agency, starkly described the situation in Sudan, warning that it is on the brink of mass famine, with young children facing the possibility of starvation.

The situation in Sudan is desperate: more than 8.4 million people, including 2 million children under 5 years of age, have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Despite these alarming figures, the international response has been woefully inadequate, with only 5% of the humanitarian response plan for Sudan in 2024 funded so far, Islamic Relief said in a statement.

The agency’s director in Sudan, Elsadig Elnour, declared: “In the last year I have seen my country descend into violence, madness and destruction, neglected by the rest of the world.”

The conflict, which pits the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) against the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF), has left millions displaced and countless civilians dead or seriously injured.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, warned in a statement on Monday of a new escalation of violence in Sudan “as parties to the conflict arm civilians and more armed groups join the fighting.”

Since the start of the civil war, thousands of homes, schools, hospitals and other vital civilian structures have been destroyed, “plunging the country into a serious humanitarian crisis and creating the world’s largest displacement crisis,” his office said.

“About 18 million people face severe food insecurity, 14 million of them children, and more than 70% of hospitals are no longer functioning amid a rise in infectious diseases,” Türk added.

The warnings come as a donor conference takes place in France on Monday, which French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné said is aimed at supporting mediation efforts, improving coordination between the international community and providing support to donors. Sudanese civilians.

At a press conference held in Paris with his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, he declared: “We are here today to break this wall of silence around this conflict and mobilize the entire international community.”

“Today we show that we will not forget the suffering of the people in Sudan,” Baerbock said, adding that the humanitarian situation in the war-torn country is “truly disastrous.”

A CNN investigation found that nearly 700 men and 65 boys had been forcibly recruited by Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in a three-month period in Jazira state alone.

Mohamed Badawi, a lawyer for the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies, then told CNN that the RSF’s coercive and violent tactics were akin to a “forced labor system,” and claimed that people could be detained if they did not They “killed for” the RSF.

Doctors Without Borders on Friday called on leaders attending the Paris conference “to immediately scale up the humanitarian response” in Sudan. The charity denounced that the “chronic lack of response from humanitarian organizations and the UN has made an already serious situation in Sudan desperate”, since “Sudanese authorities systematically block the delivery of aid to some areas, while that the RSF have looted health facilities and supplies.

Mohamed Osman, Sudan researcher at Human Rights Watch, also said that “the global response to Sudan’s brutal conflict has to change.”

Osman urged leaders to hold accountable those responsible for atrocities and violations of international humanitarian law.

“The warring parties in Sudan have inflicted tremendous suffering on Sudanese from all walks of life,” he said. “Leaders meeting in Paris must act to address the shamefully low levels of humanitarian funding, including for local responders, and commit to taking concrete action against those who deliberately hinder the delivery of aid to populations in need.”

According to the US special envoy for Sudan, Tom Perriello, a specific date for peace talks has not yet been decided.

Perriello told a State Department briefing that Saudi Arabia was planning to host integrative talks, and that they hoped to announce a date soon. Previously, Perriello had indicated that talks could resume around mid-April, after Ramadan, possibly on April 18.

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