"I am severely malnourished and could not produce milk": in Kalma, Ansaf Omar has been mourning for a month and a half her 18-month-old son who died of starvation — like dozens of other children in this camp for displaced people in Sudan.
"I took him everywhere, to hospitals, to clinics, but in the end he died," the incredibly thin Ansaf, 34, who found refuge after the Darfur war broke out in 2003 in this camp in Nyala district, the capital of South Darfur province.
In this region, which borders Chad, the consequences of hunger are often fatal· but throughout the rest of Sudan, one of the poorest countries on the planet, the problem has worsened: 15 of the 45 million inhabitants are currently suffering from malnutrition.
Three million children under the age of five they are very severely malnourished, according to the UN. Among them, "more than 100,000 children are at risk of starvation if they are not offered help", warns Leni Kinsley, the World Food Program (WFP) communications officer in Sudan.
Not all children in Sudan are at risk of dying· but a third of under-fives are “below average for that age” in height, and almost half have a “40% stunting level”, warns the non-governmental organization Alight. In Kalma and its surroundings, the aid organization recorded 63 child deaths from hunger in its own centers alone in 2022.
"You have to choose who to help"
In its camps, home to 120,000 people displaced by the war waged by Omar al-Bashir, the dictator who was toppled in 2019, there was hunger from the start. But the problem grew in 2022, after the military coup of October 2021, which led to the suspension of international aid.
Last year, there was a "massive increase in imports and requests for emergency feeding services" in Kalma, Alight Sudan operations director Heidi Dietrich told AFP.
The NGO says it received "863 new cases of children", a number "increased by 71% since 2021" . And the increase in cases was accompanied by an increase in deaths, "they were 231% more in 2022" among children over six months of age.
At one of its centers in Kalma, Hawa Suleiman, 38, hopes to find something to feed her baby. "There is nothing in our house, we often sleep with an empty stomach", he explains.
The economic problems in Sudan do not stop piling up: the embargo of the time of Omar al-Bashir was followed by the pandemic of the new coronavirus and the war in Ukraine, which skyrocketed food prices and caused peculiar competition among populations in need of humanitarian aid.
Over the years, WFP has been forced to double the size of food rations it distributes to refugees and displaced people in Sudan because of “its budget constraints,'' Ms. Kinzli says.
Aid organizations aid are now faced with an unbearable dilemma, "we have to choose whom to help" — and, every time, it "breaks our hearts".
"They never let us rest"
Because of the cuts, Nouralsam Ibrahim, 30, and her five children cannot rely on humanitarian aid alone.
«We try to secure a little money working in the fields around the camp, but the money we we earn are not enough to eat even for a day, he says.
In a country in absolute economic withering, with inflation soaring and speculation rampant, "even bread is too expensive", he adds.
As for Ansaf Omar, she is afraid to even leave the camp in Kalma because clashes between tribes or over land often break out in the area. Across the country, around 1,000 people were killed in incidents of this nature in 2022, according to UN estimates.
«They never let us rest when we leave the camp to look for work. Women are rushed, men are killed»…
And all this to try to earn less than a dollar a day in the fields.