2017 IN REVIEW
Sudan witnessed keen improvements in security conditions in 2017, and limited new internal displacement, as compared with 2016. However, an increase in the number of South Sudanese refugees arriving in Sudan, in addition to disease outbreaks, and long-term food insecurity and malnutrition contributed to increasing the humanitarian caseload.
Estimates by the Government of Sudan show 386,000 people returned voluntarily to areas of origin, in 2017, either from refugee communities in neighbouring countries, or from internal displacement camps. On the refugee front, at least 195,000 people arrived in Sudan in 2017, many fleeing the conflict in South Sudan. Another 200,000 people are expected to arrive throughout 2018.
This movement foreshadows what is predicted for 2018, and already caused shifts in the humanitarian landscape. The cessation of hostilities in Darfur, and between Government forces and rebel movements in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, allowed humanitarians to reach hundreds of communities, many of whom had lain for years outside reach. Both this access and easier obtainment of travel permits and procedures for humanitarian workers was the product of painstaking negotiations between the Government and the United Nations. To this end, new government directives launched in late 2016 set the tone in 2017 for daily improvements in the relationship between Government and implementing partners.
In this partially transformed humanitarian backdrop, partners worked to align humanitarian assistance and resilience, selfreliance and prevention activities, essential building blocks in building the capacity of the most vulnerable to resist shocks such as conflict, drought, floods, health crises, and economic hardship.
Despite the positive security developments, humanitarian conditions suffered the dramatic effects of the Government of Sudan’s structural adjustment reform, and the steep devaluation of the Sudanese pound. Combined with drought conditions, rampant inflation triggered by currency devaluation caused the price of grain to double, tipping another 1.5 million people into severe food insecurity in at least three states covered by humanitarian aid – Kassala, Gedaref and North Darfur.
On a related but separate note, malnutrition continued to afflict millions of children across Sudan. Humanitarian partners reached 1.4 million children under five with Vitamin A supplementation, integrated with immunization services. Another 377,657 children with severe acute malnutrition had access to treatment services and programmes. Successful forays in treating malnutrition as a cross-cutting issue served to influence humanitarian partners to work together to gain efficiency in programme-delivery for improved results.
BASIC HEALTH PROVISION AND DISEASE OUTBREAK
On the health front, 824 people died and thousands more suffered from Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD), a water-borne disease closely associated to cholera. Fully preventable, AWD occurs because of poor hygiene and lack of basic sanitation. Although 1.7 million people were provided access to sufficient drinking water, and 520,000 with access to adequate sanitation, in 2017, 12 per cent of Sudan’s population continued to practice open air defecation, contributing to the AWD problem.
On a more positive note, at least 78 per cent of all children born in Sudan were delivered with support from a trained midwife. In this regard, SHF funds were instrumental in providing power to health clinics and posts in Darfur, contributing to an environment for safe deliveries.
LONG TERM DISPLACEMENT AND LIVELIHOODS
The scale and long-term nature of displacement, especially in Darfur, has caused an unprecedented loss of livelihoods for millions. In 2017, a push towards voluntary returns to areas of origin exposed both the displaced and host communities to competition for scarce resources, leading to further economic hardship and uncertainty about the future.
As the war in Darfur recedes, millions of people in displacement camps began to show signs of restlessness, resulting in a marked increase in cases of inter-communal violence and petty crime both in camps and in host communities.
In many parts of Darfur, inter-communal conflict is a large cause of insecurity, and has reportedly kept IDPs from returning to areas of origin. Localised armed violence in many cases replaced the formerly warring militias. Such localised armed violence, which takes place most frequently between sedentary farmers and pastoral communities, and the many nomadic communities remained only partially resolved with the establishment of several animal migration corridors for the benefit of pastoralist communities, and to preserve agricultural fields.
Of additional concern, many of the displaced return to lands which had been occupied in their absence by other communities, militias or agri-businesses. Addressing the issue of land tenure and the management of resources will be pivotal in consolidating peace and in providing an exit strategy from Sudan’s protracted humanitarian crises to one of nation-building and economic development.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.