From Breadbasket to Battlefield: Conflict Ravages Sudan, Spreads to Critical Food Producing Regions

January 18, 2024

As heavy fighting continues in Sudan, the conflict has created the world’s largest and fastest-growing displacement crisis. Over 7.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes, including approximately 1.4 million seeking refuge in neighboring countries without any clear path for return. An estimated 13,000 people have been killed since the fighting began and more than 25 million people — half the population — are estimated to need humanitarian assistance in Sudan in the year ahead.

As fighting spreads into key food production regions such as Al Jazira, Kordofan and White Nile, and challenges to delivering humanitarian aid increase, the threat of catastrophic hunger looms in the months ahead. Nearly 18 million people across Sudan are already facing acute hunger — more than double the amount one year ago. 

Mercy Corps Regional Director for Africa, Melaku Yirga, says:

“Each month of this nine-month conflict has resulted in exponentially more deaths and devastating humanitarian consequences. Just in the last month, 700,000 more people in Sudan have been displaced and some now face a second displacement. 

“Regions that were once the country’s breadbasket are now brutal battlefields. Even as the harvest season approaches, most farmers across agricultural regions are tragically witnessing their crops and livelihoods wither away as they cannot reach their farms to harvest or markets to sell their produce. Other people desperate to feed their families are risking their lives in an attempt to reach their farmlands.

“Across the country, the breakdown of supply chains has resulted in skyrocketing prices in most markets, leaving most of the population with minimal or no purchasing power. According to recent reports, the average wheat prices are nearly 65 percent higher than they were in December 2022 and 250 percent above the five-year average.  

“Making matters worse, the ongoing insecurity, looting, and attacks on aid workers, facilities, and supplies continue to impede the delivery of aid and essential services. Recent clashes in South Kordofan state have limited Mercy Corps humanitarian operations in the capital city of Kadugli, as the city remains surrounded by armed forces. Meanwhile, many roads — including the main road to Dilling, South Kordofan's second-largest city — remain closed or impassable, and aid workers are forced to negotiate access through numerous and dangerous checkpoints. Communication also remains a significant challenge, with mobile phone and internet outages occurring regularly. All of this makes for an extremely difficult operating environment. 

“We urgently call on all parties to the conflict and the international community to support mediation efforts to end the war and the suffering of millions of Sudanese.”