A burnt vehicle in front of damaged shop in Omdurman A burnt vehicle in front of damaged shop in Omdurman  (AFP or licensors)

Pope renews prayers for peace in Sudan as millions risk famine

Pope Francis urges world leaders to seek peace between Sudan’s warring parties, as humanitarian organizations say time is running out for millions of people in the African nation.

By Devin Watkins & Nathan Morley

“I invite everyone to pray for Sudan, where the war that has lasted over a year has yet to find a peaceful solution. May weapons be silenced.”

Pope Francis made that appeal on Sunday as he prayed the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope urged international leaders and Sudanese authorities to help Sudan and its many displaced people.

“May Sudanese refugees find welcome and protection in neighboring countries,” he added.

Pope Francis also prayed for peace in “martyred Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, and Myanmar.”

“I appeal to the wisdom of leaders, so that escalation may cease and every effort may be spent in dialogue and negotiations,” he said.

Millions at risk of famine in Sudan

As the Pope appealed for peace, time seems to be running out for millions of people in Sudan, who are at imminent risk of famine.

The country is embroiled in a second year of conflict between rival military factions and is home to the largest number of internally displaced people in the world.

Now, as the war drags on, humanitarian organisations have sent a stark warning, saying the warring parties are preventing aid from reaching the population.

This latest alarm comes after 19 international humanitarian groups, including 12 United Nations agencies, urged the warring parties to stop blocking food aid from reaching millions suffering from hunger.

In the latest indication of the scope of the problem, Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the Office for Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said Sudan’s 18 million hungry people will die if the aid does not start to flow.

Children appear to be the prime victims, with 3.6 million youngsters going hungry.

“If they continue to be prevented from providing aid in Sudan rapidly and at scale, a famine will likely take hold in large parts of the country,” said Mr. Laerke. “More people will flee to neighboring countries. Children will succumb to disease and malnutrition, and women and girls will face even greater suffering and dangers.”

Over a year of war

Sudan is in a desperate situation. According to calculations made by the United Nations, almost 10 million people who have been displaced from their homes are refugees inside the country.

To make matters worse, a further two million people have fled for safety neighboring countries.

Sudan has been witnessing brutal armed clashes between the Sudanese army and the RSF since April 15, 2023, with the two sides accusing each other of initiating the conflict.

The United Nations has previously said the worsening situation is having a negative impact on neighboring countries, many of which are coping with their own crises.

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02 June 2024, 12:27