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Rising Hunger Looms in Sudan, with Little Aid in Sight — UN

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 United Nations agencies on Friday forecasted that millions of Sudanese would go hungry this year as economic turmoil and erratic rains drive up prices and reduce harvests.

It said the rising levels of hunger threaten to further destabilise a country that faces growing conflict and poverty.

It added that this followed a military takeover with a halt to foreign assistance and the war in Ukraine putting food supplies at further risk.

Sudan has been mired in economic crisis since before the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in an uprising in 2019.

A transitional government attracted billions of dollars in international support, but that was suspended after the coup, placing Sudan on the brink of economic collapse.

Currency devaluations and subsidy reforms have also driven up prices and inflation was running at more than 250 per cent.

In the capital Khartoum, the cost of ever-shrinking small loaves of bread has risen from two Sudanese pounds two years ago to about 50 pounds ($0.11).

Some 87 per cent of Sudan’s imported wheat came from Russia and Ukraine, according to FAO data, making it one of the Arab world’s most exposed countries to the war in Ukraine.

“If this measly piece of bread is 50 pounds, what kind of life can we have?” said Haj Ahmed, an elderly man at a vegetable stall in Alhalfaya, on the capital’s outskirts.

The World Bank estimates that in 2021 some 56 per cent of Sudan’s populations of around 44 million were surviving on less than 3.20 dollars, or about 2,000 pounds per day.

This was one of its global poverty lines, up from 43 per cent in 2009.

Earlier, the World Food Programme estimated that people experiencing levels of hunger that will force them to sell essential assets, or who will have nothing more to sell, will double by September to 18 million.

Aid agencies have long worked to help the rural poor and people displaced by war in Sudan. In 2019 the WFP extended its operations to urban centres for the first time.

Marianne Ward, WFP deputy country director said “this jump didn’t happen yesterday or a couple months ago, it’s been building.

“It’s not exclusively driven by conflict anymore, it’s also about structural issues such as inflation (and) availability of foreign currency.’’  (Reuters/NAN) 

Foreign News

February Ends with Extreme Heat – WMO

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The UN weather agency, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), says February saw more extreme heat and unusually high temperatures in both hemispheres.

Summarising the state of the climate, it said the month ended with extreme heat in the southern hemisphere where it is summer, while high temperatures atypical of the northern hemisphere winter prevailed.

Parts of North and South America, northwest and southeast Africa, southeast and far eastern Asia, western Australia and Europe all saw record-breaking temperatures, either on a daily basis or for all of February.

“The anomalous heat is consistent with the persisting warming observed since June 2023, with seven consecutive new global monthly temperature records, including January 2024,” Alvaro Silva, a climatologist working with the WMO, said in a statement.

Global sea surface temperatures were record high. While the El Niño weather pattern “has stoked temperatures in some parts of the world, human induced climate change is the long-term major contributing factor,” he added.

Conversely, a large part of northwestern Canada, central Asia – and from southern central Siberia to southeastern China – witnessed exceptional cold during the last week of the month.

The meteorological winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern hemisphere finished officially at the end of February.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) raised increasing concern on Friday that more refugees would cross into Chad from Darfur in the coming weeks amid a worrying lack of food and other essentials.

Almost a year since the start of the civil war between rival militaries in Sudan, neighbouring Chad urgently needs more humanitarian aid and significant development investment, the agency reported, especially in its eastern areas which are hosting the refugee influx.

This investment will allow the country to continue its generous open-door stance towards refugees.

“Chadian officials are concerned that many more hungry Sudanese families will come in the next weeks,” said Kelly Clements, UNHCR’s Deputy High Commissioner, who is in the country to review the relief operation.

“The country is committed to keeping its borders open, despite the fragility of this region.

“But, doing so will put even more strain on Chad, which has so graciously been hosting refugees from Sudan’s war – now raging almost a year – and other refugees still here from earlier emergencies.” (NAN)

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More Than 30,000 Killed in Gaza Strip War – UN Officials

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More than 30,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Israel launched its military offensive in October, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Thursday.

Volker Türk quoted the number during a meeting of the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The head of the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also used the figure in a post on X, formerly twitter.

“The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 30,000 a large majority women and children.

Over 70,000 Palestinians have been injured,” he wrote.

“This horrific violence and suffering must end. Ceasefire.”

Neither Türk nor Tedros quoted a source.

An official confirmation from the health authorities in Gaza, who usually post the figures daily, is expected later.

Israel launched its assault on the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian militants from Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organisations killing of more than 1,200 people inside the Jewish state on October 7. (dpa/NAN)

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Saudi Arabia places Orders for 120 Helicopters with Airbus

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Saudi Arabia’s The Helicopter Co. (THC) has ordered up to 120 Airbus helicopters.

Also, the German helicopter emergency medical services operator, DRF Luftrettung, placed orders for up to 10 Airbus H145 helicopters.

The airline manufacturer made the disclosure on Wednesday.

The companies signed the deals at the HAI Heli-Expo currently taking place at Anaheim Convention Centre in southern California, according to Airbus.

Airbus’s framework agreement with THC, a premier provider of commercial helicopter services and fully owned by the Public Investment Fund, will include up to 120 Airbus helicopters of various types.

These will be delivered over the next five years to seven years.

The deal included a firm order for eight H125s along with 10 H145s that were converted options from an earlier contract.

This brought THC’s total Airbus helicopter fleet to 60. Twenty-five of the 60  are already in service.

The new H125 helicopters would support the delivery of THC’s range of services in areas including aerial work and tourism.

Furthermore, DRF Luftrettung’s orders for up to 10 H145 helicopters include seven firm orders and three options. (dpa/NAN)

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