By Nick Bythrow

Abstract: The war in Sudan between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has resulted in a wide-scale humanitarian crisis impacting Sub-Saharan Africa. Sudanese citizens within the country struggle for medical supplies, food, and water, which have grown scant despite efforts by humanitarian aid groups. Meanwhile, war refugees in Chad and South Sudan add to the already destabilized conditions in both nations. Despite the UN calling for $2.6 billion to combat this crisis, global powers seem more intent on offering global aid that aligns with Western interests. As the United States’ recent $105 billion proposed aid package to Ukraine and Israel shows, the world’s most powerful nations could provide funds to combat Sudan’s crisis. However, the prioritization of certain world crises over others means Sudan will likely continue suffering as its war marches on.

The war between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) began on April 15, 2023. Since then, the country has faced a major resource crisis leaving thousands in desolate, life-altering conditions. By August 16, at least 4,000 people had been killed in the conflict. This includes civilians, 435 of whom were children. During these first three months of fighting, Sudanese citizens began to flee into neighboring countries, searching for refuge. By the start of September, at least 1 million people had fled the country. 400,000 Sudanese refugees arrived in Chad by early September, while another 300,000 had arrived in South Sudan by early October. The impact of the war has been felt across the entire region–and with it, a lack of resources for Sudan’s residents and refugees alike. However, a lack of humanitarian funding from global powers throughout the now six-month-old conflict exhibits a lack of prioritization for combating the crisis. And, by extension, underscoring the hierarchy of Western interests during a time of worldwide turmoil.

The Resource Crisis

While the war in Sudan had been ongoing for just one month by mid-May, the UN estimated Sudan needed $3 billion in humanitarian aid and refugee assistance, encompassing relief for 25 million people. By mid-June, the full effects of the conflict on civilians were starting to take shape within Sudan’s borders. Two months into Sudan’s war, 2.2 million citizens had been displaced from their homes. According to the International Organization for Migration, internal displacement in Sudan grew to 7.1 million by early September. In October, UN representative Clementine Nkweta-Salami said Sudan’s displacement crisis is the fastest-growing in the world. The fighting on both sides of the Sudan conflict have contributed to a rising number of citizens who no longer have adequate homes within the nation.

But housing is just one of many necessary resources Sudan’s war has stripped away from its people. Shortages in food, water, and medicine have been present in the country since June. A report from Al Jazeera from that time period highlights how Soba University Hospital–one of the largest hospitals in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum–was facing issues with stocking basic medical supplies and staffing issues. Only the adult dialysis unit remained functional. However, by September, kidney patients began struggling to get dialysis care, even in Soba. On October 19, French medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (known in English as Doctors Without Borders) suspended surgery at another Khartoum hospital, Bashir, after the SAF blocked medical supply lines into the city. Without proper resources, hospitals in Khartoum and across the region haven’t been able to provide the life-saving care they were built to offer.

Food and water have also become scarce in the war’s wake. A report from the UN Refugee Agency and World Health Organization in mid-September revealed over 1,200 children under five in Sudan’s White Nile region have died since the war began, partially due to malnutrition. However, the UN estimates the number of malnourished children under five in the region could be close to 3.4 million. This is despite efforts from organizations like the UN’s World Food Program (WFP), which has provided 1.5 million Sudanese people food assistance within the country. The WFP has also helped 600,000 refugees get meals.

This humanitarian crisis brought upon by Sudan’s war has gone largely ignored within the nation as the SAF and RSF wrestle for national power. Their indifference has thrust global organizations into the role of front-facing contributors for the safety and security of Sudanese citizens. Beyond the WFP’s contributions to food assistance, the UN has continued to highlight and bring humanitarian aid to the nation. In an October 15 statement from Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths, it was reported 9,000 people had been killed and 5.6 million displaced six months into the war. And, with 25 million requiring some form of aid, efforts have been left underfunded.

Griffiths reports only 33% of $2.6 billion needed to provide adequate aid has been funded. This lack of monetary means is further reflected by other countries in the region who are also calling for assistance. On October 16, Chad requested greater global aid to combat the 2.1 million people in the country suffering from food insecurity. This crisis is made all the more pertinent because of the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees that now live in the nation. South Sudan’s humanitarian conditions are deteriorating as well, where only 7.2% of the population has access to electricity, and 67.3% of the nation lives under the international poverty line. Their own housing of Sudanese refugees also underscores just how vast an impact Sudan’s war has had on conditions throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

The additional strain countries like Chad and South Sudan now face because of Sudan’s resource crisis causes the refugee crisis in the region to worsen. In addition, Sudan’s war sets the stage for possible world-scale vulnerabilities for every nation in the area. The UN hasn’t allocated enough funds for humanitarian aid in the nation. Since May, the UN has called for billions of dollars in aid to be utilized for Sudanese civilians. However, the lack of funding indicates member states–which make up the majority of the world–are deprioritizing assistance for the ongoing crisis, putting Sudan and its neighboring nations at greater risk for resource depletion.

Global Favoritism

Dwindling relief funding in Sudan is already breaking down many efforts from activists in the country to help their fellow citizens. While some communities began forming makeshift clinics as early as late April, a lack of funding has caused a number of activists to flee conflict-heavy areas like Khartoum. Aid supplies have also grown scarce in regions controlled by the RSF. This means some civilians are forced to rely on the insurgent group, despite RSF soldiers looting, evicting, and killing civilians since the war began. A lack of aid from international sources have resulted in major struggles for the Sudanese people, weakening the social infrastructure of the nation as unreliable sources of help become the only consistent option.

The ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Sudan and a lack of funding from the UN indicate the country’s withering conditions are in part due to global favoritism. As Sudanese people continue struggling for everyday resources, powerful nations fund ongoing conflicts in other countries for higher costs. Most recently, United States President Joe Biden called for a $105 billion national security package that would see $61.4 billion given to Ukraine and $14.3 billion to Israel. Another $9.15 billion would be strictly for humanitarian aid in the Ukraine and Gaza regions. The tens of millions of dollars being handed to other countries by the US alone shows that powerful UN member states could fund Sudanese humanitarian efforts if they chose to. Instead, conflicts that impact Western nations’ security interests are prioritized, given funding far greater than what Sudan’s people would need for their survival.

It should be noted that Sudan’s suffering doesn’t negate ongoing, horrific wars and crises happening in other nations. Even in Africa–where 146 million people in the Sub-Saharan region face a hunger crisis–Sudan is just one of many countries struggling from a lack of humanitarian aid. However, the scarcity of funds for combating Sudan’s particular crisis speaks to the favoritism of some nations over others in receiving international funding. In December 2022, the Biden administration pledged a commitment of $55 billion in African aid over the next three years. While this money is expected to go toward helpful endeavors like health programs and climate conservation, this three-year plan pales in comparison to the $76.8 billion sent to Ukraine since its war with Russia began in February 2022.

The actions of global powers like the United States are revelatory toward their deprioritization of humanitarian issues in Africa. Despite a comparatively fractional cost for helping tens of millions of people in Sudan alone, Western interests are prioritized when it comes to massive amounts of emergency humanitarian aid. It is a non-negotiable position for these powers, who put their own security and resource interests first. Sudan’s suffering doesn’t take away from that of the Ukraine or Gaza regions, but it does underscore which nations’ crises are internationally favored.

This globalized partiality toward the crises and conflicts of particular nations means the suffering of Sudan’s citizens will continue to go overlooked on a worldwide scale. Diminishing funds for vital resources means conditions in the nation–and the region–will only worsen as time marches on. Western interests are too crucial a component in how powerful countries show their global favoritism, made more pertinent by the number of ongoing crises worldwide. It also dooms Sudan’s citizens to the brutality of a humanitarian crisis global powers have little interest in circumventing because of other monetary focuses.

Article or Event Link
Oct 29, 2023
Public Policy


Public Policy

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