As the armed conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), enters its fourth month, neighbourhoods across Khartoum, Darfur, Kordofan and Blue Nile states have transformed into battlefields, with civilians caught in the crossfire. According to the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), at least 1,136 deaths have been recorded as of 14 July 2023.1 Despite international diplomatic efforts to have a sustained ceasefire between the warring parties, the situation does not show any indications of improving. Instead, the current political stalemate, and fighting igniting longstanding ethnic tensions in Darfur and South Kordofan, suggest that the conflict will continue beyond 2023, humanitarian needs will continue to rise and the consequences for displacement shall become ever more complex and protracted.
Large-scale attacks on civilians, civilian infrastructure and residential areas are among the most concerning violations of international law and humanitarian principles, together with sexual and gender-based violence.
The intensity of the fighting in Khartoum, Darfur and Kordofan states have cut many people off from basic services and humanitarian assistance. Due to the lack of access to education and other social services, children are increasingly at risk of recruitment by or association with armed groups.
The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate with reports of food, water, electricity and fuel shortages across the country, disrupting market systems, limiting access to communications and making it increasingly difficult for people to leave conflict-affected areas. Insecurity, looting and numerous bureaucratic impediments make the operating environment particularly challenging for humanitarian actors, and at least 15 humanitarian workers have been killed since the outbreak of the conflict.
The conflict has led to widespread displacement both within Sudan and across international borders as people look for safety and access to basic services. Over 2.4 million people have been internally displaced since the beginning of the conflict, while close to 732,823 have crossed into Egypt, Chad, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Central African Republic (CAR). In addition, the conflict in Sudan has ripple effects on the security situation along the Chad/CAR border, where the intensification of armed group activities triggered over 37,300 new displacements from Chad into CAR.
The Sudan crisis is a telling example of the complexity of the displacement situations in the region. Prior to the eruption of the Sudan conflict, the country already hosted over 1.1 million refugees, making it one of the largest refugee-hosting countries in the world, and the second largest in Africa. Since 15 April, a large number of South Sudanese who were refugees in Sudan have been left with no choice but to return to their country of origin, despite conditions not being conducive to durable solutions. The large number of new arrivals and returnees in South Sudan is exacerbating the already high humanitarian needs in the country and is contributing to increased tensions, particularly with recently internally displaced populations who have not had equal levels of access to services.
The regional impact of the conflict goes beyond cross-border displacement, for the crisis has disrupted regional trade and supplies chains which, combined with inflation, substantially increase the needs of the most vulnerable, the cost of humanitarian interventions and challenge the stability of Sudan’s neighbours.