After a remarkable year of political transformation and progress made in ensuring people’s freedoms, the transitional period continues to open up opportunities for peace-building and international engagement in Sudan. The signing of the Juba Peace Agreement in October 2020 between the transitional government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) was broadly welcomed and it is seen as creating momentum towards stability in the country.
Sudan’s transitional government is committed to addressing the economic crisis and reforming the country’s economy. Steps taken to this end include pledges of financial support; the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme to support economic reforms and strengthening governance; lifting of subsidies; and removal of Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List, an impediment to securing debt relief and international finance.
However, reforms and gaining access to international financing takes time, and humanitarian conditions are likely to worsen before substantive progress is made. Humanitarian needs continue to grow, driven by rising food prices, the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, record flooding in 2020, localized conflict and disease outbreaks. A total of 13.4 million people are projected to need humanitarian assistance in 2021 which represents more than a quarter of the population. This is an increase of 4.1 million from 2020 and the highest number in the past decade. Of the 13.4 million people in need, 7.6 million are women and girls. Other vulnerable groups include 2.5 million internally displaced people and 1.1 million refugees, including the new arrivals from Ethiopia.
While significant efforts have been invested in achieving peace, the underlying conditions driving poverty and insecurity persist in communities across the southern regions and Darfur. In the wake of the reforms taking place and the uncertainties of the transitional period, new conflicts are emerging in an environment where resources and opportunities are already scarce. Inter-communal conflict is a recurring pattern which continues to displace people and claim lives. While the peace process opens opportunities for durable solutions, these are yet to be found and millions continue to live in protracted displacement inside and outside the country.
In 2020 humanitarians were able to reach more than 8.8 million people in need in Sudan. With the needs growing, humanitarian organizations have scaled up their assistance despite operational challenges posed by COVID-19 and the economic crisis. While funding for humanitarian operations reached the highest level in 2020 since 2011, it did not meet the growth in humanitarian needs, resulting in a larger funding gap than in 2019.
It is against this backdrop that this Humanitarian Response Plan has been developed. In 2021, humanitarian partners aim to support 8.9 million of the most vulnerable people, which will require US$1.9 billion in funding. Out of the total, 880 million are required for lifesaving activities, whilst 700 million for life-sustaining interventions. The remaining 320 million will be used for cross-cutting protection activities. The financial increase reflects the growing humanitarian needs, as humanitarians can now access previously inaccessible areas under the control of Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
In 2021, the HRP will prioritize lifesaving multi-sectoral assistance in areas with highest convergence of needs. The plan includes response readiness for recurring flooding, conflict, and disease outbreaks. Food assistance, disease prevention and emergency assistance will be scaled up to the newly displaced due to conflict or flooding. Life-sustaining services will be prioritized, such as essential health services (including vaccination and antenatal care), prevention and treatment of water-borne and vector-borne diseases and access to education, livelihoods and water and sanitation. More needs to be done to reach the most vulnerable people across the country. The collective response of HRP partners will continue to prioritize the mitigation of and response to protection needs, particularly in Darfur where the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is drawing down. Humanitarian partners are committed to work closely with the government and the people of Sudan to ensure that the humanitarian response will support building the capacity of communities to sustain durable solutions and peaceful coexistence.