Civil conflict in Sudan: One year on

A woman uses a bucket she received during a distribution organized by Caritas Mongo in the Chadian border town of Adre. Photo by Mabel Chenjoh CRS.

A year ago today, civil conflict broke out between armed militias in Sudan with the two sides still battling for power, much at the expense of civilians.   

In that year around 13,900 people have lost their lives with over 8 million people displaced.   

Some of the displaced were refugees from neighbouring countries who had previously sought shelter in Sudan. This makes for a complex regional diaspora with people having to start from scratch, and create a home and a life, in the most challenging of circumstances – sometimes many times over.   

The fighting has also caused extensive damage to critical infrastructure, including water and healthcare, with frequent interruptions to electricity and telecommunication services. Banking and financial services have also collapsed, and looting is widespread.   

As a result, about half of the population – 25 million people including 14 million children – now need humanitarian aid and protection assistance.   

The humanitarian response 

Our partners on the ground have been working to support displaced people and their host communities with food and multipurpose cash assistance, shelter, psychosocial support, hygiene services, and gender-based violence protection.   

This humanitarian response is also reliant on partnerships in neighbouring countries. When the war broke out, our Caritas partner in Chad was one of the only humanitarian organisations active in the remote area of Andressa along the border of Sudan.  

Another Caritas local partner was the only South Sudanese organisation working in a Transit Camp on the border in Renk. As late as the end of last year, they reported 4,200 refugees were arriving there each day, around 90% of them women and girls. 

The outlook for women and girls 

Despite the hard work of humanitarians across the world, the outlook is still dire for displaced people in and around Sudan – especially women and girls.  

Globally, women and girls are often heavily affected by displacement due to their lack of access to resources and decision-making power. However, even against global contexts, the rates of gender-based violence and sexual violence in Sudan are a disturbing feature of this conflict.   

In the 6 months following the outbreak of violence the number of people in need of gender-based violence services in Sudan increased by over 1 million to 4.2 million people - this number is expected to increase to 6.9 million in 2024. 

Advocating for a better future 

In a recent statement the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference raised concerns “the international community has forgotten the Sudan crisis” and called on the Caritas network across the world to “engage their respective governments, donors, and the wider international community to urgently pick up and advocate for the needed resources to avert the looming famine.” 

Recently Caritas Australia CEO Kirsty Robertson addressed an audience gathered at Parliament House in Canberra, at an event on the crisis hosted by the Sudanese Australian Advocacy Network (SAAN).  

The visit to Canberra was part of the launch of the Safer World for All campaign, which sees humanitarian agencies pushing for the Australian government to increase aid contributions to help prevent the emergence of overlapping global catastrophes, known as a polycrisis. 

During her opening remarks Kirsty explained that Sudan – affected by climate challenges, political and economic insecurity, and conflict - provides us with a shocking and raw view of what can happen when the progress of a polycrisis goes unaddressed.