World donors pledge over $2 billion in aid for war-torn Sudan to prevent famine

PARIS (AP) — More than $2.1 billion in humanitarian aid was pledged for Sudan after a yearlong war that has pushed its population to the brink of famine, said Monday. Macron spoke at the end of an international conference in Paris aimed at drumming up support for 51 million people. The aid will go to food, water, medicines and other urgent needs, he said, without providing a specific timeline. Top diplomatic envoys, U.N. officials and aid agencies urged Sudan’s warring parties to stop attacks on civilians and allow access for humanitarian aid, and called for immediate international mediation efforts toward peace. Members of Sudan’s civil society took part in the Paris meeting, but neither the Sudanese army nor its rival paramilitary were represented.

Sudan descended into conflict in April last year when simmering tensions between the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces exploded into open fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere across the country.”Much of the world has been focused on the crisis that was generated in the Middle East. As concerning as those developments are, other dramatic life-and-death emergencies are being pushed into the shadows,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters after the Security Council met on Sudan on Monday.”The world is forgetting about the people of Sudan,” he said.

The humanitarian campaign needs some $2.7 billion this year to get food, health care and other supplies to 24 million people in Sudan — nearly half its population. So far, funders have given only $145 million, about 5%, according to the U.N’s humanitarian office, known as OCHA. After Monday’s conference, Macron said, ‘’We are today at 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) for Sudan.” Of that, some 900 million euros comes from EU countries, he said.

Monday’s conference among 58 countries also called on regional powers to stop funding Sudan’s war. Without naming them, Macron said, ’’The amount we raised today remains probably less than all the money raised by several powers” to wage a proxy conflict in Sudan. More than 14,000 people have been killed and at least 33,000 have been wounded in the yearlong war. Nearly 9 million people have been forced to flee their homes either to safer areas inside Sudan or to neighboring countries, according to the U.N. Hunger, sexual violence against women and girls and continued displacement are rampant and much of the country’s infrastructure — homes, hospitals and schools — has been reduced to rubble.”We cannot let this nightmare slide from view,” Guterres said in a video message to the Paris conference.”It’s time to support the Sudanese people. It’s time to silence the guns,” he added.

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said the aim of the conference was to mobilize humanitarian funding to help Sudanese people, who have been victims of both a “terrible war” and “international indifference.”The European Union’s crisis management commissioner, Janez Lenarcic, said the 27-member bloc wants to ensure that Sudan is not forgotten as wars in Gaza and Ukraine dominate the international news.”People of Sudan, caught up in this emergency, are almost completely invisible,” Lenarcic said. Sudan has turned into one of the worst humanitarian disasters ever on the African continent, he said, and added: “It is our duty not to look away.”President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Mirjana Spoljaric warned that humanitarian action is increasingly politicized in Sudan and humanitarian workers are risking their lives to get vital aid to people.”Securing a military advantage cannot be pursued regardless of the human cost,” Spoljaric said.

The United States and Saudi Arabia initially led efforts to find a negotiated way out of the conflict. But since October the fighting has been overshadowed by the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which is threatening to expand into a broader regional conflict. Relief workers, meanwhile, warn that Sudan is hurtling towards potential mass death in the coming months. Food production and distribution networks have broken down and aid agencies are unable to reach the worst-stricken regions. The conflict has also been marked by widespread reports of atrocities including killings, displacement and rape, particularly in the area of the capital and the western region of Darfur. At least 37% of the population at crisis level or above suffer from hunger, according to OCHA. Save the Children warned that about 230,000 children, pregnant women and newborn mothers could die of malnutrition in the coming months.”Famine is a reality in Sudan,” said Abdallah al-Dardari, a regional director of the U.N. Development Program. The military, headed by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the RSF, commanded by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, have carved up Khartoum and trade indiscriminate fire at each other. In 2021, Burhan and Dagalo were uneasy allies who led a military coup. They toppled an internationally recognized civilian government that was supposed to steer Sudan’s democratic transition.