Europe to raise funds for war-ravaged Sudan at Paris aid conference on April 15

Officials tell The National the year-long civil war must not be forgotten

People walk on the outskirts of the newly established Awulala refugee camp, near Maganan, 80 km from the Sudanese border in Ethiopia's Amhara region, on February 28, 2024.  Having escaped a raging war at home, Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia face more conflict and insecurity as the border region of Amhara is plagued by unrest and clashes that sees the Ethiopian National Defense Force battling an ethnic Amhara militia known as 'Fano'.  According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) over 100,000 people have crossed into Ethiopia from Sudan since April 2023.  Sudanese and other refugees in the border camps in Amhara lament a lack of security, difficult communication with the outside world - the Ethiopian government has disrupted access to mobile internet in the region since August 2023 - and a general sense of abandonment, raising the question if they fled a dire situation to end up in similar one.  (Photo by Michele Spatari  /  AFP)
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France, Germany and the EU will co-host an international, ministerial-level conference in Paris to raise funds for Sudan and neighbouring countries on April 15, the first anniversary of the civil war, officials have told The National.

“We are facing an absolutely dramatic crisis on a humanitarian and geopolitical level,” said a source close to French Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Sejourne.

“In a context of increasing international crises, our intention is to shed light on this crisis, which must not become the forgotten crisis.”

The conference was announced by Mr Sejourne last month. He said at the time that it would “try to resolve the dramatic humanitarian crises plaguing this area”.

A representative for the German Federal Foreign Office confirmed that Foreign Affairs Minister Annalena Baerbock will co-host the event.

The representative told The National that the conference is "also intended to send a clear political signal to the warring parties to end the fighting."

Sudanese civil society will be closely involved in the event, they said.

Those invited also include Sudan's neighbours, international organisations such as the UN, and donors, as well as EU member states.

Fund-raising will be geared towards Sudan and neighbouring countries, where several hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees have fled.

Also on the agenda will be humanitarian access, which presents “a real difficulty”, the French source said.

“The suffering of the Sudanese people is unacceptable and unbearable,” the source said.

Recent reports have highlighted the famine that has gripped parts of the country.

The World Food Programme warned last month that at least 25 million people were struggling with soaring rates of hunger and malnutrition.

Thousands of families are being displaced to Chad and South Sudan each week.

The programme is facing an almost $300 million funding gap for the next six months.

The Sudanese army rejected a call for a ceasefire during Ramadan, which began on Monday, saying it intended to continue to fight.

Residents in Khartoum told AFP they are struggling to feed themselves.

“Ramadan? We've been doing that for months,” resident Othman Idriss said by phone.

“We have been eating one meal a day for months and we no longer even have the means to prepare it ourselves.

“They serve it to us in a soup kitchen organised in a mosque.”

The army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have been found by the UN to have committed war crimes during the conflict.

Updated: March 13, 2024, 6:56 PM