Civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile are on the verge of a potential food crisis. Next month’s harvest is expected to fail due to the disruption of the major crop season as a result of attacks by the Government of Sudan and fighting between Bashir’s forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army- North (SPLA-N). According to the UN, at least 235,000 people in both South Kordofan and Blue Nile are in need of help.
On Tuesday, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for urgent action to prevent a humanitarian and food crisis in the conflict affected regions of Blue Nile and South Kordofan. In South Kordofan, fighting between the SPLM-N and Sudanese government began on June 5th at the beginning of the planting season displacing over 200,000 civilians. Many fled into nearby caves seeking refuge from the Sudanese Armed Forces’ aerial bombardments. Those who did not flee their villages have stayed close to their homes and makeshift bomb shelters they created by digging holes into the ground and have not ventured to their fields fearing the indiscriminate bombing by government planes.
Earlier this week, the UN reported that food stocks that were delivered two months ago have now been depleted and civilians are experiencing food shortages. These shortages are unlikely to be remedied in the near future as the Sudanese government continues to prevent international humanitarian organizations from providing food and other desperately needed supplies. The few Sudanese NGOs permitted in South Kordofan face a multitude of restrictions severely limiting their ability to deliver aid.
President Bashir’s forces have also restricted international aid groups from accessing Blue Nile where the Sudanese government and SPLM-N have clashes repeatedly since September 1st. The people of Blue Nile were able to plan their crops since fighting in the state began several months after clashes broke out in South Kordofan. Unfortunately, many civilians in Blue Nile have been forced to abandon their fields as the Sudanese Armed Forces attacked towns throughout the state and many crops have become overgrown and withered.
The likely crop failures will not only affect the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile but will also have an impact on civilians elsewhere in Sudan who already face rapidly increasing food prices. Over the past week there have been several series of protests against the rising food prices and high levels of inflation on food which last month topped 27%. The lack of crops to harvest in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and food shortages in South Sudan will likely cause prices to soar even further.
The Government of Sudan’s restriction of aid combined with the looming failure of the upcoming harvest will likely have devastating effects in the near future. The United States and international community must immediately pressure the Sudanese government to allow international humanitarian organizations and UN agencies to provide critically needed aid to the people of Blue Nile and South Kordofan in order to prevent a food crisis.