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Sudan faces worst level of acute food insecurity in history

Children in Sudan struggle with malnutrition and hunger, and food insecurity levels in the country are among the highest in history. | Vision of the world

Many Sudanese people are forced to fight over anthills for food as the country grapples with one of the highest levels of food insecurity in history, according to global evangelical humanitarian organization World Vision.

Edgar Sandoval, president and CEO of World Vision US, recently told The Christian Post that life in Sudan is currently full of fear and chaos as the country grapples with the harsh reality of civil war and is on the brink of famine.

In addition to the threat of violence, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification reported that 25.6 million people in Sudan face high levels of acute food insecurity, with 8.5 million people facing a food crisis. The IPC also warned of the risk of famine in 14 areas, affecting residents and refugees in areas such as Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan.

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Children in Sudan eat food provided by World Vision. | Vision of the world

However, the civil war that broke out in April 2023 between the Sudanese armed forces and the government-sponsored paramilitary Rapid Support Forces does not appear to be the only cause of the famine.

Last month, World Vision reported that Sudan had received below-average rainfall for the third consecutive year, leading to crop failures.

As the charity employs more than 190 people working in Sudan to address the food crisis, Sandoval recently visited the Chadian-Sudanese border to speak to people fleeing the country.

“I saw a level of despair and hopelessness in mothers and children that was beyond anything I had ever seen,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval met an 8-year-old girl who lost her family to the rampant violence in the country. While the girl’s two aunts helped her escape, she saw the bodies of her dead parents. Sandoval said the girl’s story is “representative” of what children in Sudan experience.

Sandoval also met with another mother and her son, who weighed just 26 pounds. He said his heart broke when the mother cried, telling Sandoval that people in her community were fighting each other over anthills because they were so hungry. She said they would eat millet stored there by the ants.

“And they’re fighting for that as their only source of food,” Sandoval said. “I think that speaks to the level of desperation that the Sudanese people are dealing with. It’s a situation that children and mothers are especially struggling with.”

In June, the United Nations Children’s Fund announced that nearly 9 million children in Sudan face acute food shortages and lack access to safe drinking water. More than 3,800 children have died since fighting escalated in April 2023, and nearly 4 million children under the age of 5 suffer from acute malnutrition, with 730,000 of them at “imminent risk of death.”

Over the past year, World Vision has reached more than 1.2 million people, mostly women and children, with emergency assistance including food and cash assistance, health and nutrition services, and water, sanitation and hygiene solutions. In addition to Sudan, the global aid organization operates in Chad, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic.

A World Vision representative told CP that the UN’s Sudan response plan requires $2.7 billion, but only 17.4% has been funded. In April, the UN reported that only about 6% of the response plan had been funded.

According to Sandoval, World Vision has been working in Sudan for decades, even before the current food security crisis. He said the organization is adept at meeting people’s needs despite the dangers.

World Vision typically works with local churches in Sudan to provide assistance and has a number of safeguards in place to ensure that the right people receive support.

“And my experience has been that when American Christians realize the need, the level of generosity starts pouring out,” he said, saying there needs to be more global awareness of the crisis. “Every little bit helps.”

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman