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Mass starvation is 'very real risk' in some Sudan regions, WHO says

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Mass starvation is a "very real risk" in some regions of war-torn Sudan, where conflict has made medical aid broadly unavailable, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

Displaced Sudanese families wait to receive food from a charity kitchen, as a year of war between Sudan's army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has driven more than 8.5 million people from their homes, in the city of Omdurman, Sudan, April 6, 2024. Reuters/El Tayeb Siddig

Mass starvation is a "very real risk" in some regions of war-torn Sudan, where conflict has made medical aid broadly unavailable, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

Fighting broke out in the capital Khartoum in April 2023 and quickly spread across the country, reigniting ethnic bloodshed in the western Darfur region and forcing millions to flee.

"People are dying from a lack of access to essential services and medicines, while there is a very real risk of mass starvation in some regions," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Tedros said more than 70% of hospitals in conflict-affected states of Sudan and 45% of health facilities in another five states are not working.

"The remaining ones are overwhelmed with people seeking care," he added.

"Critical services, including maternal and child health care, the management of severe acute malnutrition and the treatment of patients with chronic conditions, have been discontinued in many areas."

U.N. agencies warned last month that Sudan was at imminent risk of famine, with about 18 million people acutely hungry, including 3.6 million children who were severely malnourished.

The conflict has prompted what the U.N. describes as the world's largest displacement crisis, with nearly 10 million people displaced internally, and another 2 million fleeing to neighbouring countries.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber

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