Situation Report
Source: 2022 Global Report on Internal Displacement

Sudan: A five-fold increase in internal displacement in 2021 (2022 Global Report on Internal Displacement)

Report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)

The humanitarian situation in Sudan deteriorated significantly in 2021, as inter-communal violence intensified and the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) increased to 3.2 million. Around 442,000 internal displacements were reported during the year, more than five times the figure for the previous year and the highest since 2014. The increase was mainly the result of the escalating violence, but better access to affected areas also improved the quantity and quality of data available, painting a more accurate picture of the displacement situation.

Violence across the country, and mainly in Darfur, stems mostly from inter-communal disputes over land, grazing routes and other resources. Clashes between nomads, farmers, herders and other groups date back many years, particularly during the harvest season. Disasters, COVID-19, a severe economic crisis and worsening food insecurity intensified competition for resources in 2021 and contributed to the steep rise in violence and displacement.

Shifting power dynamics after the fall of Omar al-Bashir in 2019 have also played a role. The transitional government and an array of non-state armed groups (NSAGs) signed the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) in October 2020, with the aim of tackling key issues such as land, IDPs’ return, transitional justice, security sector reform and political representation.

Implementation, however, has faced challenges and delays. Notably, not all of the country’s NSAGs signed the agreement and some communities feel excluded. Cattle-herding communities in Darfur in particular fear being evicted if the traditional system of land ownership is fully restored and IDPs return to what used to be their land, as envisaged in the JPA. They have not traditionally been allocated their own land and rely on accessing that of others along their migration routes. Tensions arising from the fear of losing control of resources descended into violent clashes between communities across Darfur in 2021. A number of villages and displacement sites were affected, particularly in North and West Darfur, where land is contested. The withdrawal of the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) in June also left a security vacuum that reduced protection for civilians, including IDPs.

Around 422,000 displacements were reported in Darfur during the year. Armed clashes in Ag Geneina in West Darfur triggered more than 170,000 in January, surpassing the country-wide figure for 2020 in three days. Around 104,000 people were still displaced in the town as of the end of the year, many living in overcrowded shelters with no access to water, sanitation or other essential services. Inter-communal violence also triggered 48,000 displacements in Tawila in North Darfur on 31 July and 1 August, and tens of thousands more elsewhere in the country during the year, including in West and South Kordofan.

The humanitarian response was worryingly underfunded as of the end of the year. This, combined with deepening insecurity and an uncertain political landscape after the military took control of the government on 25 October, represent major barriers for IDPs’ pursuit of durable solutions. Around 56 per cent of Sudan’s IDPs have been displaced for more than ten years, highlighting the protracted nature of this crisis.

To tackle these challenges, the national authorities in collaboration with the UN and other stakeholders have set up a durable solutions working group and drafted a national strategy on the issue for IDPs, returnees, refugees and host communities. These initiatives have laid the foundations for and built momentum toward bringing a definitive end to displacement. Sustaining them is much needed, given the scale of the phenomenon and the extent of IDPs’ ongoing needs. Political solutions are equally needed to address the causes of violence, including through implementation of the JPA.

To read the 2022 Global Report on Internal Displacement, click here