Sudan: Anticipatory actions for potential unrest - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF Operation MDRSD030

Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Sudan has for many years experienced increasing inflation rates, a depreciation of the Sudanese Pound, and associated increases in the prices of key commodities – including food and medicine. This has reduced household purchasing power and access to food among vulnerable communities. In December 2018, the economic crisis sparked protests, which led to the deposition of the former president in April 2019. A Transitional Military Council (TMC) was established; however, this did not stop protests which continued, demanding the establishment of a civilian government, resulting in the formation of a Transitional Government in September 2019.

The Transitional Government has inherited the economic burden and the massive inflationary pressures have continued to heavily impact living standards and increased insecurity due to economic hardship. The political outlook and Sudan’s removal from the States Sponsor of Terrorism List (SSTL) by the United States in 2020, was expected to stimulate financial flows, benefiting growth. However, this has not translated to any meaningful improvement in the economy. The GDP growth forecast for Sudan dropped down from 0.8% to 0.6%, reflecting the negative impact of soaring domestic prices. Private consumption remained weak in the first half of 2021, as inflation dampens purchasing power and Covid19 restrictions hampered the recovery in consumer and business activity.

There is a real risk that sustained uncertainty around government arrangements – let alone a significant deterioration in security – will have serious humanitarian impact, both through the impact on the economy and directly on protection of vulnerable people. The situation in the country is not yet stable and the future unpredictable, which has been reflected in recent events summarized below:

  • An attempted coup took place on 21 September 2021 to take over the state television, army headquarters and dismiss the transitional government. The Prime Minister highlighted this to be an extension of previous attempts to overthrow the government.

  • Tensions have persisted and increased after the failed coup attempt.

  • On 4 October, four suspected members of ISIL group were killed in a raid by security officers in Khartoum, and eight people were arrested on 3 October. In ending September, 11 foreign nationals linked to an ISIS cell were arrested during which five intelligence officers were killed during an exchange of gunfire.

  • In recent months, the government has undertaken a series of tough economic reforms to qualify for debt relief, leading to sporadic protests against these reforms and the cost of living. Demonstrations have since been holding weekly and although they have mainly remained non-violent, the demonstrations cause disruptions.

  • In recent weeks, demonstrators from the Beja tribe have blocked roads around Port Sudan and forced Red Sea ports to close, protesting against the transitional government and poor economic conditions. The government is warning that the country is running out of life-saving medicines, fuel and wheat stocks because of the closure of the port and ongoing protests, which could cause further unrest. The transitional government is yet to reach an agreement on how to approach the situation in eastern Sudan.

  • According to Reuters in an article published on 01 October, Sudanese security forces fired tear gas on 30September to break up a demonstration in the capital Khartoum by an estimated 20,000 people in support of a civilian-led transition to democracy.

  • Despite a peace deal signed in 2020 with various Sudanese armed groups, there has been increased unrest in the western region of Darfur as well as local clashes in the eastern part of the country.

In response to recent developments, the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) has revised its contingency plan reflecting emerging/potential scenarios to prepare and anticipate a possible scenario of social unrest, where one of the key activities will be to increase their readiness and response capacity. The National Society is now set in the context of unrest. This DREF operation, closely coordinated with the support of the ICRC and PNSs in the country, will support the SRCS contingency plan support anticipatory actions to ensure the National Society’s readiness to provide immediate response considering the unrest being witnessed in the country. This will help to reduce the direct and other indirect (food & fuel shortages, population movement etc) impacts on the population. If the National Societies does not take action at this moment, they might be unable to act effectively if the situation continues to escalate. In the event of a situation gravitating towards the worst-case scenario, there would be a mandated response led by the ICRC and the SRCS, with the support of other Movement partners as shall be possible and agreed upon.

Being at the forefront of possible unrest, SRCS volunteers will have a vital role in monitoring the situation, and assist in emergency health care, in addition to their work side-by-side local authorities to evacuate communities trapped by demonstration /protest-related violence.