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Sudan: 2.5m people could die from hunger by September 2024, warns Dutch think tank

Depleted harvests, plunging imports and soaring prices mean that many Sudanese are relying on community level food sharing initiatives
Volunteers distribute food to residents and displaced people in Omdurman, Sudan, 8 March 2024. Nearly five million people in the country are close to famine as Sudan's civil war passes the one-year mark (Reuters/El Tayeb Siddig)
Volunteers distribute food to residents and displaced people in Omdurman, Sudan, on 8 March 2024 (Reuters/El Tayeb Siddig)

Around 2.5 million people in Sudan could die from hunger by September 2024, Dutch think-tank, the Clingendael Institute has warned in a new report.

The report, which is based on published data on harvests and stocks, household stocks, wheat imports, and humanitarian aid, predicts that if the current situation continues, there will be estimated excess mortality of about 2.5 million people.

According to the report, 90 percent of the excess mortality will be concentrated in 10 percent of the total population, with 15 percent of the population of Darfur and Kordofan, which are likely to be worst affected, expected to die from hunger and disease by September 2024.

Since fighting broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in April 2023, the food security situation has rapidly deteriorated due to logistics disruptions caused by the conflict, depleted harvests, a drop in imports and soaring food prices.

After the war erupted, community-level initiatives for sharing food sprang up across the country, with many of the hungriest people relying solely on these informal soup kitchens.

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The report’s excess mortality prediction is based on a scenario in which these food-sharing mechanisms continue without support, warning that this practice will need to be complemented by boosted agricultural production and a large increase in food aid to the country.

It added that the excess mortality is linked not just to the severity of the hunger, but its duration.

“One cannot survive at emergency levels of food consumption for a long time,” it warns.

Furthermore, it said that parts of the country have likely already reached the tipping point at which large-scale hunger transitions into large-scale death.

'Worst hunger ever'

The report builds on a policy brief published in February that revealed the huge impact the conflict has had on the country’s food system, including the worst hunger ever recorded during the harvest season, from October to February.

It also predicted a worst-case scenario of “catastrophic” levels of hunger by June 2024, the so-called "lean season".

In April, the United Nations's children's agency, Unicef, said an estimated 8.9 million children are currently grappling with acute food insecurity, with 4.9 million now having reached emergency levels.

Just under four million children under five are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition this year.

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, there have been more than 15,550 "reported fatalities" in Sudan during a year of war.

However, that figure is believed to be much lower than the true death toll.

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