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Sudan needs 'immediate action' on hunger to avert widespread death, UN-backed report says

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Immediate action is needed to "prevent widespread death and total collapse of livelihoods and avert a catastrophic hunger crisis in Sudan," a United Nations-backed global authority on food security warned on Friday.

Women and children wait to be registered prior to a food distribution carried out by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Thonyor, Leer state, South Sudan, February 25, 2017. Reuters/Siegfried Modola

Immediate action is needed to "prevent widespread death and total collapse of livelihoods and avert a catastrophic hunger crisis in Sudan," a United Nations-backed global authority on food security warned on Friday.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) had been due to issue an update to its December analysis that found nearly 5 million were on the verge of catastrophic hunger. But it was unable to do so due to the war.

Instead, the IPC said it reviewed the latest evidence available and published the alert on Friday "to express major concern" about the deteriorating situation and to push for immediate action "to prevent famine."

War erupted in Sudan on April 15, 2023, between the Sudanese army (SAF) and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The U.N. has said nearly 25 million people - half Sudan's population - need aid and some 8 million have fled their homes.

"Without an immediate cessation of hostilities and significant deployment of humanitarian assistance ... the population of Khartoum and Gezira States, Greater Darfur and Greater Kordofan, is at risk of reaching the worst levels of acute food insecurity and malnutrition during the upcoming lean season starting from April – May 2024," the IPC said on Friday.

The U.N. Security Council this month called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. The U.S. warned on Thursday that it would push the council to take action to get aid to starving people in Sudan, possibly by authorizing cross-border deliveries from Chad.

The IPC estimated that nearly 5 million people were acutely malnourished, of whom 3.6 million are children under the age of five and 1.2 million are pregnant and lactating women.

It estimated cereal production was 46% lower than the previous year due to fighting in primary crop production areas during the peak of harvest season, with food prices in markets 73% higher than in the same period last year.

By Michelle Nichols

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