30 May 2024
One year on: Protecting communities in Sudan’s forgotten crisis

There is a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Sudan — and you might not know much about it.  

In March, Save the Children reported that in the coming months nearly 230,000 children, pregnant women and new mothers could die in Sudan due to hunger. 

There is an urgent need for life-saving support to respond to the massive and worsening crisis. However, humanitarian funding to respond to the Sudan crisis is currently sitting at a mere 16% of required funds. Without support, millions of people are slipping towards famine. 

What is happening in Sudan? 

The crisis unfolding in Sudan is incredibly complex. The country has experienced multiple and prolonged conflicts over the years, such as the Darfur conflict, the South Sudanese Civil War, and internal conflicts in regions like the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile.  

Prior to the current conflict, which erupted in April last year, Sudan already hosted more than 3.8 million internally displaced people. The current conflict has internally displaced a further 6.8 million, with 2 million crossing borders with neighbouring countries.  

This makes it the world’s largest displacement crisis, with more than 24 million people needing humanitarian assistance. 

Advocating for safe humanitarian passages 

To support the humanitarian response in Sudan, RedR Australia roster member Julie deployed as a humanitarian affairs officer with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This deployment was purposefully funded by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). 

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Julie worked in the Nairobi office as OCHA’s protection focal point and interim head of sub-office for the Jazirah State. During her deployment, Jazirah State came under fierce fighting when the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke into the state and took over many localities—including the capital—displacing more than 500,000 already vulnerable people. 

Julie worked closely with the broader protection cluster to support their advocacy initiatives for the protection of civilians and their safe passage, while OCHA’s access team advocated for the safe delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid. Humanitarian access is very constrained in parts of Sudan, with some areas completely unreachable. 

“I worked closely with OCHA colleagues, partners and the protection cluster to source reliable information on protection risks and impacts,” said Julie. “This information was collated to inform advocacy with parties to the conflict to enable protection, safe passage and access to affected populations.”  

Julie also worked with OCHA’s access and civil-military coordination teams to support advocacy with parties to address issues around bureaucratic and administrative impediments, which have a profound impact on the delivery of assistance to affected people. 

“OCHA had a few successful interventions in negotiating the delivery of humanitarian aid, and the cross-border response from Chad enabled critical supplies to reach people in need in Darfur. However, major obstacles remain,” said Julie. 

These obstacles include violence against humanitarian personnel, looting of trucks and assets, bureaucratic impediments, ongoing armed conflict in urban areas, lack of access to areas that are too unsafe for humanitarians to access, and access restrictions in areas where human rights abuses continue to be reported. 

Protecting communities from harm 

Julie also supported on issues related to protection of civilians, working hand-in-hand with the protection cluster and other key stakeholders in the Sudan Humanitarian Country Team.  

“A stable and secure operating environment is crucial for the safety of humanitarian workers and the populations they serve,” said Julie. “It is not only lacking in many parts of Sudan, but further eroding.” 

More than 20 humanitarian personnel have been killed in Sudan since April 2023. 

A life-long commitment to human rights 

Julie is a senior humanitarian and protection specialist, with 20 years’ experience in child protection and program management. Julie has worked extensively for the United Nations across south-east Asia, the Middle East and Africa. 

For Julie, supporting the humanitarian crisis in Sudan was an important role. 

“Sudan has one of the largest, most overlooked protection crises in the world,” said Julie. “Therefore, ensuring the centrality of protection in everything we do in Sudan could not be more important.”  

Julie reflects on the importance of protection in humanitarian crises such as in Sudan. 

“Protection has been described as both the purpose and outcome of humanitarian action,” said Julie.  

“And I connect deeply with the meaning of these words. This moral imperative drives my approach to work.”  

Julie is also driven to work in humanitarian settings due to a sense of compassion.  

“I have a desire to make a positive impact on the lives of those in need, and a commitment to upholding human rights,” she said. 

“Many humanitarian workers are motivated by a sense of responsibility and empathy.” 

Learn more about OCHA’s work in Sudan. 

Learn more about RedR Australia’s roster members and their work.


OCHA, Sudan Situation Report (last updated 16 May 2024) 

Save the Children, Sudan: Nearly 230,000 children and new mothers likely to die from hunger without critical action (March 2024)