'Beyond anything I'd ever seen': Sudan facing worst levels of acute food insecurity ever recorded

Children in Sudan face malnourishment and hunger during one of the the worst levels of acute food insecurity ever recorded in the country.
Children in Sudan face malnourishment and hunger during one of the the worst levels of acute food insecurity ever recorded in the country. | World Vision

Many in Sudan are forced to fight over anthills for food as the country faces one of the worst levels of food insecurity ever recorded, according to the global Evangelical humanitarian organization World Vision. 

Edgar Sandoval, president and CEO of World Vision U.S., told The Christian Post in a recent interview that life in Sudan is currently one of fear and chaos as the country faces the harsh realities of civil war and 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 are facing high levels of acute food insecurity, and 8.5 million people are facing emergency food shortages. The IPC also warned about the risk of famine across 14 areas, impacting residents and refugees in areas like Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan. 

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Children in Sudan eating food provided by World Vision.
Children in Sudan eating food provided by World Vision. | World Vision

The civil war that began in April 2023 between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the government-sponsored paramilitary Rapid Support Forces does not appear to be the sole cause of the famine, however.

World Vision noted last month that Sudan has had below-average precipitation for the third year in a row, resulting in harvest failures.

As the charity has over 190 people working in Sudan to address the food crisis, Sandoval recently visited the Chad-Sudan border to speak with the people fleeing the country. 

"I saw a level of despair and hopelessness in the moms and the children that was just beyond anything I'd ever seen," Sandoval said.

Sandoval met an 8-year-old girl who had lost her family to the raging violence happening in the country. While the girl's two aunts helped her escape, the girl saw her parents' deceased bodies. Sandoval said that the girl's story is "representative" of what children in Sudan are experiencing. 

Sandoval also met another mother and her son, who weighed only 26 pounds. He said his heart broke as the mother wept, telling Sandoval that people in her community are fighting each other over anthills because they're so hungry. She said they'll eat the millets stored there by the ants.

"And they're fighting for that as the only source of food," Sandoval said. "I think that speaks to the level of desperation that the Sudanese people are facing. It's the situation that children and moms in particular are facing." 

In June, the United Nations Children's Fund announced that nearly 9 million children in Sudan face acute food insecurity and access to safe drinking water. More than 3,800 children have been killed since the fighting escalated in April 2023, and almost 4 million children under the age of 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition, with 730,000 projected to be at an "imminent risk of dying." 

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

A World Vision representative told CP that the U.N.'s response plan for Sudan calls for $2.7 billion, but only 17.4% has been funded. In April, the U.N. 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 insecurity crisis. He stressed that the organization is adept at addressing people's needs despite the danger.

World Vision typically partners with local faith communities in Sudan to provide aid and employs several safeguards to ensure the right people receive assistance. 

"And in my experience, once American Christians are aware of the need, the level of generosity starts to pour out," he said, saying more global awareness is needed of the crisis. "Every little bit helps."

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

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