‘Desperation’ forcing Sudanese to eat grass amid mass hunger

Food insecurity levels are worsening rapidly in Sudan, as a result of the ongoing civil war [Getty/file photo]

The World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that “desperation” was pushing scores of Sudanese to resort to eating grass and tree leaves as war-induced food insecurity continues to grip the East African country.

The UN programme said that malnutrition among children was reaching “alarming levels”, as humanitarian relief agencies were faced with increasing challenges in delivering adequate amounts of aid to those impacted by the ongoing civil war in Sudan.

In a statement posted on X on Sunday, the WFP stressed that it was “urgently expanding its emergency food and nutrition assistance” and is “working around the clock to distribute food supplies throughout the country”.

Earlier in May, the UN programme alerted that civilians in Al-Fashir, in the state of North Darfur, were being forced to consume soil washed with water, peanut shells, and grass in a bid to survive.

An escalation of violence in the region had halted aid convoys coming from Chad’s Tine border crossing to the already-struggling civilians living in the Sudanese state.

In late May, UN agencies made demands for “unimpeded” humanitarian access to deliver aid to Sudan, ravaged by civil war which began in April 2023, triggered by a power struggle between Sudanese army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

In May, the north Darfur capital city became the latest front in the war between the rival Sudanese military leaders.

Al-Fasher, with a population of 1.8 million, is home to mostly internally displaced persons (IDPs), having fled violence which has raged across other parts of Sudan since April 2023.

Hundreds have been reportedly killed there in recent weeks due to indiscriminate shelling and stray bullets. The city’s main hospital is also currently out of service, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) told Reuters on Sunday, following attacks largely blamed on the RSF by local volunteers.

Some 25 million people in the war-torn country are in need of humanitarian assistance, aid agencies warned, with 18 million facing acute food insecurity.

Five million Sudanese are also approaching a state of famine as the civil war passed the one-year mark.

The WFP issued a warning earlier this year that hunger and food insecurity levels in Sudan – exacerbated by the war – could risk becoming the world’s largest hunger crisis.

At least 15,500 Sudanese have been killed in the violent civil war, with over eight million displaced, as the conflict continues to rage. Sexual violence and exploitation of women have also reached “terrifying levels”, an investigation by The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed revealed last month.

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