Sudan: Fighting in Al Fasher is pushing hundreds of thousands of people across Darfur closer to famine

Fierce ongoing fighting in and around the Sudanese city of Al Fasher is pushing hundreds of thousands of people across Darfur closer to famine.

The fighting in Al Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state and a major supply hub, has cut off supply routes to other parts of Darfur, with food prices now more than doubling in some places as a result. In Golo, in central Darfur, where Islamic Relief works, the price of a sack of potatoes has more than doubled from 50,000 to 110,000 Sudanese pounds, and the price of other staple foods, fuel, and other commodities has all increased significantly. 

Commercial traders who bring food and fuel supplies to Darfur from Port Sudan via Al Fasher have told Islamic Relief that the fighting has forced them to stop operating.

Three weeks of heavy street clashes, sniper attacks, shelling and air strikes in and around Al Fasher have forced 58,000 people to flee their homes, killed at least 134 people and injured hundreds more. Hospitals have been attacked and damaged and are running out of medical supplies, and the fighting has disrupted power and water supplies.

Violence against civilians means that many people in the surrounding area are now unable to access food or get to their farms, shops or other sources of income.

Most of the displaced people are currently sheltering in desperate conditions in and around the city, but growing numbers are starting to flee to other parts of Darfur. At least 65 trucks carrying people fleeing Al Fasher arrived in the mountainous Jebel Marra region of central Darfur in recent days, and 21 truckloads of people arrived in the town of Tawila, with more expected. Many more people want to flee the city but don’t have fuel or money to escape, and people have reported being held up and extorted at checkpoints as they try to move south.1

The influx into other areas where people are already struggling to get food is likely to increase hunger in the region further. 1.7 million people across Darfur are already facing emergency levels of hunger, and now it is feared the situation could deteriorate into famine.

Ryan Ali, an Islamic Relief food security officer in Golo, central Darfur, says: “I now regularly meet people who haven’t eaten for a whole day, and at least 2 children died here recently from malnutrition.  Most people don’t have enough food and now the fighting in Al Fasher has pushed food prices even higher, when they were already too high for most people. The conflict, lack of jobs and skyrocketing food prices mean people simply cannot afford to eat. For many people here, the little bit of humanitarian aid that we are able to provide is all they have.”

Jacob Opwapo, Islamic Relief’s Business Development Manager in Sudan, says, “The fighting in Al Fasher is a nightmare for the people of Darfur. It is doubling some food and commodity prices in the region and causing more displacement, which is pushing desperate people closer to famine and overwhelming the already overstretched aid efforts.”

A new report released this week by the Sudan Nutrition Cluster found that food insecurity in central and west Darfur has already reached “extremely critical” levels. In the central Darfur town of Zalingei a March 2024 survey found prevalence of acute malnutrition at 15.6%, above WHO emergency thresholds. In ZamZam camp near Al Fasher, an April 2024 survey found almost a third of children aged 6 to 59 months, 29.4%, suffering from acute malnutrition and 33.3% of pregnant and breastfeeding women suffer from malnutrition. 2 

Islamic Relief Canada is calling for an immediate halt to the fighting in Al Fasher and a ceasefire across Sudan and for all parties to the conflict to uphold international humanitarian law. We urge parties to protect civilians and facilitate safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all peoplein need. Aid convoys to Darfur have been extremely restricted over the past six months.

Islamic Relief works in central Darfur, providing people with lifesaving aid, including food and cash. It also serves other regions of Sudan, including Gedaref, Port Sudan, Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Al Jazirah.

Notes to Editors
1. The New Humanitarian. How El Fasher went from Darfur’s safe haven to all-out war. Ahmed Gouja. May 2024 https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/opinion/first-person/2024/05/29/how-el-fasher-went-darfurs-safe-haven-all-out-war-sudan

2. The Sudan nutrition cluster. Report. Nutrition Vulnerability Analysis Sudan. May 2024. https://www.nutritioncluster.net/resources/nutrition-vulnerability-analysis-sudan

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