The recent political changes and reforms in Sudan should result in a better future for its citizens. However, the country is still facing the effects of decades of conflict, poor state of basic essential services, recurrent natural hazards and a failing economy. The Tigray crisis in Ethiopia has caused an influx of refugees into Sudan. The coronavirus pandemic is further straining an already fragile social and health infrastructure. The EU supports aid organisations bringing life-saving relief assistance to the most vulnerable people.
What are the needs?
Some 7.1 million people are experiencing food shortages and require humanitarian assistance. Those most vulnerable, especially refugees and internally displaced people, are struggling due to high food prices, cash and fuel shortages and the disruption of basic services.
Undernutrition rates in the country are among the highest in the world: According to UNICEF, some 2.7 million children (14.1%) and 1.9 million mothers suffer from acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition. Besides, over 850,000 people are affected by the desert locust swarms and heavy rainfall and flooding. In September 2020, the Nile river rose to its highest level in 100 years, destroying over 111,000 homes and forcing the Government to declare a 3-month state of emergency.
Sudan hosts more than 3.7 million refugees and internally displaced people. Resources in the hosting areas are overstretched, food supplies are running low and education and health services are under-resourced. By the end of January 2021, over 60,000 Ethiopian refugees had crossed the border into Sudan refugees fleeing the conflict in the neighbouring Tigray region. Additionally, the new crisis in 4 Darfur states has led to over another 100,000 displaced people, mostly people that were already displaced.
Organisations are reporting shortages of essential medicines across the country, while the COVID-19 is challenging Sudan's weak health system even further.
How are we helping?
In 2020, the EU allocated a total €67.6 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan. This is twice its original contribution, due to the severe deterioration of the situation in the country. This funding focused on food assistance and nutritional care. EU humanitarian aid supports the most vulnerable households – internally displaced and refugee families and host communities – struggling to get enough food. The EU also contributes to the nutritional treatment and care of children under 5 years, and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers across Sudan.
Since 2011, the EU has mobilised more than €600 million in life-saving assistance to people affected by conflict, food shortages and malnutrition, natural hazards or disease outbreaks. EU humanitarian aid provides communities with health and nutritional care, food assistance, water and sanitation, shelter, protection, and education.
In late 2020, the EU mobilised €6 million in emergency assistance to help provide life-saving aid to Ethiopians affected by the Tigray conflict. The EU supports refugee-hosting areas with registration, reception and basic services.
Given the new challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, EU-funded humanitarian projects in Sudan are adopting and adapting measures within their projects to keep staff and beneficiaries safe while continuing to provide life-saving assistance to vulnerable communities. Actions already focusing on the health sector continue helping local health centres in providing access to healthcare and in epidemics control and prevention. The EU is also supporting the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) actions in the country on COVID-19 detection and response measures.
Last year, the EU operated 2 Humanitarian Aid Bridge flights to help relief items and humanitarian workers reach the people in need in Sudan, at a time when transport restrictions were holding up commercial flights. The Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism was also successfully activated in response to the floods and the arrival of Ethiopian refugees.
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, for unhindered and safe access for humanitarian aid and the protection of civilians.