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Both Sudan and the Tigray region of Ethiopia have significant humanitarian challenges, including high numbers needing food assistance and many being internally displaced.

For Sudan, this means primarily addressing the legacy of conflicts in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and the civil war in South Sudan. These have resulted in a high level of internal displacement. In May 2020, the UN Refugee Agency said 1.6 million displaced people were still unable to return to Darfur due to its continuing insecurity. The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates around 29% of the Sudanese population—13.4 million—will need humanitarian assistance in 2021, 4.1 million higher than in 2020. This is the highest reported number in need for the last decade.

Recent events such as heavy rains and conflict in the neighbouring Ethiopian region of Tigray have also impacted on Sudan.

The paper also describes the recent political instability in Sudan, where in October General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan took control of the government from a civilian/military transitional council. Burhan says he intends to appoint a Prime Minister to rule alongside the military. The overthrow has been met by street protests, and there are reports these have been put down violently by security forces. The United Kingdom, European Union, United States, and African Union have called for the establishment of a civilian-led transitional authority.

In Ethiopia, fighting broke out in Tigray in November 2020 following growing divisions between the Ethiopian Federal Government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. While Government forces initially captured the capital of Tigray, Mekele, they have now been pushed back and the conflict has spread to neighbouring provinces.

Ongoing fighting has limited the delivery of humanitarian aid—on 28 October, the UNOCHA said the UN Humanitarian aid service had suspended all fights to Mekele due to air strikes and concerns for the safety of aid workers in the region. The UN Secretary General has described the 400,000 acutely-food insecure people in Tigray as living in “famine-like conditions” and warned that 100,000 children face life-threatening acute malnutrition in the next 12 months.

The UK and others have raised concerns regarding the lack of humanitarian access to northern Ethiopia over the past year.

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