Khartoum (AFP) - The United Nations Tuesday launched a global appeal for $952 million to fund Sudan's humanitarian needs in 2016, most of it to help people affected by the deadly conflict in Darfur.
The much delayed appeal expects to address the humanitarian needs of up to 4.6 million people, including tens of thousands of South Sudanese refugees who have entered Sudan to escape the violence and food shortages in their country.
"Women, men, refugees and internally displaced people want us to exert our maximum efforts to provide support to them," said Naeema Al-Gasseer, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan.
She said the bulk of the funds would be used to meet the humanitarian needs of people in war-torn Darfur.
Violence erupted there in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels rose up against President Omar al-Bashir, accusing his Arab-dominated government of marginalising the region.
Bashir mounted a brutal counter-insurgency campaign, and at least 300,000 people have been killed in the conflict, the UN says. Another 2.5 million have fled their homes.
Officials said Sudan's main humanitarian needs result from new displacements from conflicts that affect many people's access to food security.
"Acute malnutrition among children under the age of five is beyond emergency thresholds in several areas of Sudan," Gasseer said.
Food insecurity and the raging conflict in neighbouring South Sudan has also pushed refugees into Sudan seeking protection and assistance, she said.
As of July 3 before the latest fighting erupted in South Sudan, 79,571 South Sudanese had arrived in Sudan since the start of this year, the UN says.
Of this number, 53,273 have sought refugee in East Darfur.
- Needs not diminishing -
On Tuesday, a fragile ceasefire was holding in South Sudan's capital Juba after four days of fierce clashes killed hundreds of people.
Of the $952 million sought for Sudan for 2016, $581 million would help internally displaced people, $225 million for refugees and $146 million for vulnerable residents.
Officials said they expect to raise more than 50 percent of the total amount sought.
"In the past three to four years we have usually raised about 52 to 55 percent of the funds sought," Ahmed Adam of Sudan's Humanitarian Aid Commission told AFP.
Officials said that even if half of the required amount is raised, it would still be a fair contribution considering the pressures faced by global donors in other conflict zones such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia.
"There remains a fair degree of interest among international donors to help Sudan," said Jean Verheyden of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA.
"Most donors have confirmed they remain steadfast in their support for Sudan."
The United Nations and its aid agencies raised $604.3 million in 2015 for Sudan after a global appeal for $1.04 billion.
Gasseer said the delay in the appeal for 2016 was largely because of the time it took to coordinate between dozens of partners and organisations involved in relief work in the country.
"There's a lot of data, statistics and discussions involved to reach this conclusion," she said.
The 2016 aid appeal is eight percent less than the previous year, but Gasseer said "this does not mean that needs are diminishing" in Sudan.
The 2016 plan "attempts to focus more on the most needy people", she said.