Sudan + 2 more

UNICEF Sudan Humanitarian Situation Report, 1 Jan - 31 Mar 2021

Situation Report
Originally published



  • Fresh violence in West Darfur, killed 117, injured 223 and displaced around 165,000 people over the quarter. Armed groups cut off supplies to the city twice. Needs remain high for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who remain fearful of returning to their homes.

  • A flexible, managed official exchange rate has come into effect to reduce the effect of the parrallel market rate, significantly reducing the cost of in-country programming.

  • The COVAX initiative is being rolled out with over 300,000 people vaccinated and campaigns beginning in 11 of the 18 states. Demand for the vaccine remains lower than expected with Ramadan reducing willingness as well as general skepticism.

Situation in Numbers

7.4 million children in need of humanitarian assistance

13.4 million people in need

1.4 million children Among 2.5m Internally displaced people (IDPs)

409,649 children Among 772,918 South Sudanese Refugees


UNICEF’s 2021 Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal for Sudan requires $199 million to address the new and protracted needs of the afflicted population. The prevailing political and economic fragility in Sudan is further complicated by the turmoil of the COVID-19 crisis. The HAC appeal will be updated in the third quarter to reflect the change in needs and context.

At the end of March 2021, UNICEF faced a $159 million (80%) funding shortfall (aside from COVID-19 response requirements), curtailing relief efforts against flooding, disease outbreaks, conflict and the nutrition crisis, and leaving education, health, child protection and WASH needs unaddressed.

UNICEF Sudan would like to take this opportunity to express its sincere appreciation to the donors that continue supporting the humanitarian appeal in Sudan. In 2021 the humanitarian response has to-date been supported by the European Union, the governments of Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden the United States as well as by significant contributions from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF).

Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs

The first quarter of 2021 has seen several key events that will continue to shape the rest of the year. The political transition continues to develop with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok forming a second cabinet of ministers in February, bringing new faces and incorporating signatories to the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement into the Government and the appointment of Meni Arko Menawi as Governor of Darfur Region. The peace process itself continues to unfold with a new signing of a Declaration of Principles between the Sudan Transitional Council and the SPLM-N (Al Hiliu) in Juba. This addresses critical elements of root causes of conflict including, religious freedom, through recognizing the nation's racial, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity, refreshing hope that a comprehensive peace agreement may be reached in the near future.

The economy has not improved over the quarter with shortages of vehicle and cooking fuel, power outages and delipidated infrastructure still part of everyday life. Annual inflation rates continue to climb but the devaluation of the currency to a managed, flexible foreign exchange regime is a positive step towards reintegration into the world economy. This has significantly decreased the cost of any humanitarian or development programming denominated in Sudanese Pounds. Whether this measure will successfully remove parallel currency exchanges in the long term remains unknown.

Regional developments continue to influence matters within Sudan’s borders. Tensions remain high over the EthiopiaSudan border with small scale clashes and military deployments continuing. Further escalation would trigger another movement of people from the El Fashaga triangle or beyond, possibly threatening refugee and host communities in Gedaref and possibly Blue Nile state. This issue is also causing implications for the Ethiopian Peacekeepers deployed in the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) mission in West Kordofan, as Sudan requested Ethiopian personnel to be replaced by the UN and some Tigrayan peacekeepers requesting asylum due to the civil conflict in Tigray state. Response to the Tigray Refugee crisis continues with incoming numbers stabilized over the first quarter. Preparation for the imminent flood season has become a priority and COVID-19 is a growing state-wide concern.

An impending food shortage in South Sudan is likely to drive population movement north with 7.24 million people (60% of the population) are likely to face crisis (Integrated food security Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity. This will add pressure on already fragile support services as either new South Sudanese refugees arrive or Sudanese dwelling in refugee camps near the border choose to return. An increase of 32,000 SSRs has already been recorded by UNHCR for the first quarter.

In West Darfur, the Geneina crisis saw violence erupt in April and movement was restricted by armed groups in the city. Around 65,0005 people have been newly displaced, with around 165,0006 displaced over the quarter settling in about 80 gathering points within Geneina town in public areas, Ministry Institutional grounds and schools resulting in an overload of services and space.

Sudan Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces have been deployed to secure the town and the border area as tensions remain high following the violence which killed 117 and injured 223. Cross border tribal affiliations create a complex context which also stretches throughout Darfur, with tensions also high in North Darfur and further west into Chad with instability caused by the death of the Chadian president, Idress Deby. The return of armed fighters from Libya (aligned to the Sudan Liberation Army-AW and opposed to the perpetrators of the Geneina attacks), after supporting Khalifa Hafta, introduces a further dynamic with no straight-forward solution. An escalation of conflict in North Darfur is likely to trigger movement of IDPs to other states.

COVID-19 remains a threat across the country with 33,104 confirmed cases and 2,349 deaths as of 28 April. The vast majority of recorded cases remain in Khartoum but anecdotal evidence suggests the disease has established itself in other centres. The COVAX programme is currently rolling out with 306,000 people vaccinated (11,000 second doses) and campaigns beginning in 11 of the 18 states. However, demand for the vaccine remains lower than expected with Ramadan reducing willingness as well as general scepticism.