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Diplomats to Meet on Aid for Sudan     04/15 06:05

   

   PARIS (AP) -- A yearlong war in Sudan has devastated the country and pushed 
its people to the brink of famine. Top diplomats and aid groups are meeting 
Monday in Paris to drum up humanitarian support for the northeastern African 
nation to prevent further collapse and misery.

   Sudan descended into conflict in April last year when simmering tensions 
between the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces exploded into 
open fighting in the capital, Khartoum and elsewhere across the country.

   Members of Sudan's civil society and local NGOs will be involved in the 
Paris meeting, but neither the Sudanese army nor its rival the RSF will be 
represented.

   The U.N. humanitarian campaign needs some $2.7 billion this year to get 
food, health care and other supplies to 24 million people in Sudan -- nearly 
half its population of 51 million. So far, funders have given only $145 
million, about 5%, according to the U.N's humanitarian office, known as OCHA.

   French Foreign Minster Stephane Sejourne said the aim of Monday's conference 
is to mobilize humanitarian funding to help Sudanese people, who have been 
victims of both a "terrible war" and "international indifference."

   "It's a colossal task," Sejourne said. "It's a war the Sudanese people did 
not want, a war that only produces chaos and suffering," he added.

   The European Union's crisis management commissioner, Janez Lenarcic, said 
the 27-member bloc seeks to ensure that Sudan is not forgotten as wars in Gaza 
and Ukraine dominate the international news.

   "People of Sudan, caught up in this emergency, are almost completely 
invisible," Lenarcic said. In a year-long war, Sudan has turned into one of the 
worst humanitarian disasters ever on the African continent, he said, and added: 
"It is our duty not to look away."

   The United States and Saudi Arabia initially led efforts to find a 
negotiated way out of the conflict. But the efforts didn't succeed, and since 
October the fighting has been overshadowed by the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, 
which is threatening to expand to a broader regional conflict.

   Relief workers, meanwhile, warn that Sudan is hurtling towards an even 
larger-scale calamity of starvation, with potential mass death in the coming 
months. Food production and distribution networks have broken down and aid 
agencies are unable to reach the worst-stricken regions.

   The conflict has also been marked by widespread reports of atrocities 
including killings, displacement and rape, particularly in the area of the 
capital and the western region of Darfur.

   At least 37% of the population at crisis level or above suffer from hunger, 
according to OCHA. Save the Children warned that about 230,000 children, 
pregnant women and newborn mothers could die of malnutrition in the coming 
months.

   "Famine is a reality in Sudan," said Abdallah al-Dardari, a regional 
director of the U.N. Development Program. He appealed to diplomats gathered in 
Paris to help facilitate access for humanitarian aid workers and funding for 
vital aid for millions of people trapped in conflict that is "rapidly 
deteriorating due to no respect for human rights and international law."

   Nearly 9 million people have been forced to flee their homes either to safer 
areas inside Sudan or to neighboring countries, according to the United Nations.

   The military, headed by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the RSF, commanded by 
Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, have carved up Khartoum and trade indiscriminate 
fire at each other. In 2021, Burhan and Dagalo were uneasy allies who led a 
military coup. They toppled an internationally recognized civilian government 
that was supposed to steer Sudan's democratic transition.

 
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