The Sudan crisis: One year later

Apr 09, 2024
Written by Aynsley Persad, Programs and Policy Communications Officer, World Vision Canada with Paddy Mugalula, Response Coordinator, World Vision South Sudan (WVSS),
Laghu William Wenger, Nutrition Project Manager, WVSS and
Emmanual Ring Maker, Response Coordinator, WVSS

It’s been one year since armed conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) erupted on April 15, 2023, in Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan. Now, Sudan is facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world and the world’s largest displacement crisis, with more than 8.2 million people experiencing displacement. The war has had devastating impacts on children, with over 4 million girls and boys, including those living with disabilities, fleeing the widespread violence in search of safety, food, shelter and health care. For women and girls experiencing displacement, there are extremely high risks of sexual violence and abuse as they lack protection while they journey.

The security situation remains unpredictable, with air strikes and ethnic conflict taking place. Schools have remained closed throughout the war, preventing children from accessing their right to education. Malnutrition cases have increased, and there is a lack of vaccines available for children, driven by collapsed health systems. As individuals flee to neighbouring countries, transit centres are overcrowded, and malnutrition is rampant. Originally, transit centres were designed to be places where returnees could stay briefly before moving to the next, more interior centre and eventually back to their hometowns. However, this has not been the case, as many are now holding out for the war to end by waiting in the transit centres for prolonged periods of time.

In neighbouring South Sudan, over 500,000 individuals have crossed the border seeking refuge. Currently, in Renk, South Sudan, over 57,000 refugees and returnees remain at the Transit Centre, with the number constantly in flux. A proxy global malnutrition rate of 24.5 per cent among children under five was found during a mass nutrition screening test at the Renk Transit Centre. This rate is significantly higher than the emergency threshold of 15 per cent set by the World Health Organization.

A doctor checks a Sudanese mother's child, cradled in her arms.
After she and her family fled Khartoum in May 2023, Hawa and her daughter Kaltoum were able to access medical care from a World Vision mobile clinic. Photo: Kelvin Kagiri

World Vision is present and responding to the needs of the most vulnerable. With funds from Global Affairs Canada and the Humanitarian Coalition and supported by World Vision Canada, the response is increasing access to WASH, Health, and Nutrition services for conflict-affected girls and boys and their families at Transit Centres in South Sudan.
So far, despite the Renk health facility having a limited emergency setup, over 20,000 outpatient consultations have been seen and treated, 12 deliveries by skilled birth attendants have occurred, and over 200 moderate and severely acute malnutrition cases have been referred for nutrition services. Approximately 37,000 individuals have received clean and potable water, and 1000 dignity kits have been distributed to women and girls. As a result, mortality and morbidity rates of women, men, girls and boys have significantly decreased.

Jasmin Mohammed is a 23-year-old pregnant mother who fled from Sudan and now resides at the Renk Transit Centre. Throughout her four-day journey to the Centre, she experienced severe labour pains. Upon arrival, she was admitted to the health clinic, where she could experience a healthy birth. She safely delivered a baby boy with the support of the midwives at the clinic. Jasmin shares, “I don’t know where to start to thank the health team for the support, from when I arrived at the health facility to giving birth to my baby.”

A Sudanese woman sits outside on the ground, with her child standing behind her.
At a refugee transit camp at Aweil in South Sudan, Sudanese refugees are having to survive difficult conditions in blistering heat, often taking cover in the shade of small trees. Photo: Scovia Faida Charles

While the response in South Sudan has been successful in meeting the immediate needs of the most vulnerable, challenges remain as the violence in Sudan rages on. The workforce is overwhelmed in comparison to the number of clients. With the continued increase in the number of individuals arriving and staying at the Transit Centre, there is a need for more adequate funds to set up a larger health clinic.

Funding for vital transit centers like these, and other needs, for refugee children and their families in places like Sudan is urgently required to meet the growing needs of vulnerable girls and boys.  

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