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How USAID is Providing Aid in Sudan

Aid in Sudan
Sudan has entered a new period of civil conflict, throwing an already delicate humanitarian situation into a full-blown crisis. As the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) fight for military control in the streets of Khartoum and across the country, more than 330,000 Sudanese civilians have experienced internal displacement since April 15. However, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other organizations are providing aid in Sudan and making a difference.

The Situation

More than 100,000 people have fled the country and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that the number will rise to more than 800,000 as the crisis continues. Neighbouring countries Chad and Egypt, have each welcomed tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees seeking aid. 

Before the conflict, the North African nation was already struggling to provide sufficient food and medical care to support its citizens. More than 16 million people, approximately one-third of Sudan’s population, relied on some form of humanitarian support before the conflict began. Unfortunately, the process of getting foreign aid across to those in need could become even more challenging due to the conflict. Port Sudan along the coast of the Red Sea is the only available entry point for aid into Sudan according to the International Committee of the Red Cross Africa. The epicenter of the humanitarian crisis is in the Darfur region, which is difficult to reach due to security concerns.

Restarting Aid in Sudan

Many foreign aid actors suspended their humanitarian activities in Sudan when the conflict broke out in Khartoum on April 15th, due to active fighting and the closure of the country’s borders. The World Food Programme (WFP) lifted its temporary suspension on foreign aid activities on May 1 after three staff members were killed in North Darfur when the fighting began. The WFP has stated that it will distribute food assistance in Al Jazirah, Gedaref, Kassala and White Nile.

However, humanitarian access will remain limited in the most impacted regions of Darfur, Khartoum and Kordofan. USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration coordinate with multiple United Nations aid organizations to bolster food security and humanitarian aid in Sudan. Partnering with the WFP, USAID/BHA assisted approximately 1.1 million people in Sudan with emergency food and nutrition assistance in February 2023.

The U.S. agency delivered about 45,000 metric tons of American-sourced Sorghum to Sudan between November 2022 and April 2023 to support critical food shortages in the country. USAID has also worked with UNHCR and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide water, sanitation and hygiene assistance in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as dengue and malaria. Partner agencies have improved access to clean drinking water in conflict-impacted areas and have provided hygiene awareness sessions.

Opening Pathways for Aid in Sudan

The United States Government has demonstrated a commitment to supporting humanitarian aid efforts in Sudan amidst the violent civil conflict. The government has pledged $162,511,131 to USAID programs to support its humanitarian aid in Sudan for the fiscal year 2023. This funding comes in the form of financial aid to various U.N. partner agencies that provide food and medical aid to people in need all throughout the country.

U.S. State Department officials are in ongoing negotiations to open up additional avenues for humanitarian aid to Sudan. Envoys representing both warring factions have traveled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia as part of “pre-negotiation talks” mediated by the United States and Saudi Arabia. Neither military faction has shown a willingness to negotiate an end to the conflict, but there are considerations regarding reaching a humanitarian truce. U.S. officials are cautiously optimistic that the two sides can reach an agreement to allow additional humanitarian aid to reach Sudan. However, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland has stated that the U.S. is willing to apply economic pressure to the parties “depending on how talks go.”

Looking Ahead

Despite the ongoing civil conflict in Sudan, international aid organizations, including USAID, are working tirelessly to provide critical assistance to those affected by the crisis. While the situation remains challenging, the lifting of suspensions on aid activities and the commitment of the U.S. government to support humanitarian efforts offer hope for improving the dire conditions in the country. Negotiations for a potential humanitarian truce provide a glimmer of optimism, with the possibility of opening up pathways for additional aid to reach Sudan.

– Jeremy Rosen
Photo: Flickr