Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said Monday his government was working toward bringing peace to war-torn Darfur as he met hundreds of victims of the conflict who demanded swift justice.

At least nine million people in Sudan urgently need humanitarian assistance in what could compound the economic situation of a country struggling to sustain a transitional government.

The latest situational report from UN relief agencies shows the global body and partners have only been able to serve half of this number due to local challenges.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said the number of people in need of aid in Sudan has increased to 9.3 million, compared to 5.4 million in 2015.

In a bulletin, Ocha’s local office in Khartoum said it reached 4.3 million people last year with some form of assistance.

By last year, an estimated 8.5 million required relief.

ECONOMIC CRISIS

The announcement comes just as Sudan fights an economic crisis that has seen a deficit of about $1.6 billion and an inflation that has caused the costs of basic commodities to rise every month.

This is not entirely the fault of the transitional government now under Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

His administration, supposed to be in transition for the next 30 months, inherited an economic crisis from the regime of Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled last April.

One of the controversial policies was the national subsidy programme, worth about $300 million every year and meant to cushion the poor from the economic shocks.

Hamdok admitted though that the outcome of the programme has instead cushioned the rich, exposing the poor to more inflation.

SOLUTIONS


Whether to remove or amend the subsidies remains a debate and Khartoum was expected to hold a national dialogue forum this month to determine an appropriate decision.

Officials still admit the subsidy has provided some form of respite politically, calming a restive public.

“There is a direct relationship between the programme and support for the peace process,” Sudanese Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Badawi told reporters recently.

“… because peace building is closely related to economic stability, which will reshape the relationship between the government and the citizens, and restore the social contract to Sudan,” he added.

PRIORITIES

Most of those facing the humanitarian crisis are populations in conflict-hit regions such as Darfur and the southern border with South Sudan, where several South Sudanese refugees crossed over.

But a bad economy, an expensive dollar and high costs of goods may mean everyone, including those in Khartoum, require support.

The UN said some of the programmes this year may include resettling internally displaced people and improving the conditions of their areas, rather than simply providing basic food and medicines.

Prime Minister Hamdock said he submitted an official request to the UN to also assist in implementing requirements that would re-establish a new government after the transition.

Those requirements include ironing out peace deals with rebel groups in the south west, providing economic stimulus programmes, supporting political transition such as passing new legal frameworks and organising a popular election after the 30 months that began last August.

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