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ABC News: Sudan Facing Tragic Hunger Crisis

Date: February 20, 2024

Press Clip Source: Kyra Philipps, ABC News Live
Link to Source: Here

In this interview, Nic Pyatt, Interim Head of Mission for NP Sudan, speaks with Kyra Philipps, a correspondent for ABC News. Pyatt highlights the issues that the ongoing conflict is creating for civilians, including displacement, extreme hunger, and protection needs.

KYRA PHILIPPS: The conflict in Sudan has been raging on since April and millions of people have been displaced amid the fierce fighting there. The Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary group, Rapid Support Forces, are facing off with women and children caught in the crossfire, forcing them from their homes.  

The World Food Program says that now more than 25 million people are struggling with critical levels of hunger and malnutrition, and it's only getting worse. Joining us now is Nic Pyatt, the Interim Head of Missions for Sudan at Nonviolent Peaceforce. 

KYRA PHILIPPS: More than 7 million people are facing extreme hunger by June. That's according to another organization, including yours. How do you even begin to help? 

NIC PYATT:  That's a very good question because this catastrophe that we're facing in Sudan now is so complex, so vast and very, very intense. The response as well has been very much mismatched with the scale of the crisis that we are seeing. The international community and the local communities are doing their very, very best to support where possible. But last year, the response was only 35% funded.  

So financial resourcing, to be able to scale up, to address [these] needs is not there. We're seeing a massive effort from local communities, from local committees, rallying to mobilize whatever food, water and clothing that they can where it's available. But again, they're functioning with very little outside support. So it's very difficult across the board at the moment. 

KYRA PHILIPPS:  A UN independent investigator just carried out it's 12th visit to that country, what is the UN saying about what they have seen in Sudan and in addition to what you just laid out, are there any other concerns that we're not focusing on? 

NIC PYATT:  I mean, I think there's a huge level of concern that is not discussed internationally at all: what our teams are seeing on the ground every day. We are now 10 months into this conflict and the situation is just worsening for every community and for every family. Any community is living with the fear of daily aerial bombardments getting caught in crossfire. Women particularly are fearing for their safety each and every day because rape has been such a widespread methodology that has been used by armed groups. Schools, hospitals, homes have all been destroyed.  

In El-Fasher, North Darfur, where my team majority is, there are no doctors left. There are no specialist doctors. There are only a couple of GPs (General Practitioners) available to treat a population of millions. Mothers are terrified that their children are going to be mobilized into armed groups. Food prices have risen. Food is not available. The hunger crisis as you mentioned is coming towards us. Water, medicine are all unavailable or too expensive for people to afford. So the impact that we're seeing on the ground compared to what is being discussed at an international level or being covered in international media and by governments is completely out of whack. 

KYRA PHILIPPS: The UN is also saying that there's this media attention deficit problem over the catastrophe there in Sudan. So what more can we do? 

NIC PYATT:  So there are three key things, I think. At the moment in time, there needs to be a recognition that Sudan is the world's biggest displacement crisis that we see right now. Eight million people have been forced from their homes since April last year —  that's the same [population] as the city of New York. This is a huge catastrophe and it needs to be recognized as such. The media coverage should accordingly follow.  

In addition to that, there needs to be a huge collective diplomatic effort from many governments internationally to apply pressure on all of those involved in the conflict. This pressure needs to be obviously to find a long-term sustainable solution to this. But in the meantime, to find ways and to make sure that those involved in the conflict are upholding their responsibilities to protect civilians and that those who have committed mass atrocities, arbitrary killings, arresting people just because of the way they look, those people need to be held accountable as well. 

KYRA PHILIPPS: Well, we're talking about it, that's for sure! Nic Pyatt, appreciate you.  

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