Alex de Waal

3 July 2024

Famine in Sudan

Sudan’s humanitarian crisis is, by numbers, the biggest in the world. Sudan’s population is 48 million, of whom more than 25 million are facing ‘high levels of acute food insecurity’.

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11 January 2024

Starvation as a Method of Warfare

The food system in Gaza has collapsed completely. The health system has collapsed. Basic infrastructure for clean water and sanitation has collapsed. According to the Famine Review Committee, the people of Gaza are facing a real prospect of famine: without immediate action, mass mortality from hunger or disease outbreaks is looming.

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18 April 2019

Sudan after Bashir

During his last years in office, Bashir used his formidable political talents simply to stay in power, and did nothing for the country. Anti-government protests erupted last December, first against the high prices of bread and fuel, and then against Bashir’s endless rule and the corruption that accompanied it. Despite weekly demonstrations in Khartoum and other cities, Bashir imagined he could outlast the protesters. He thought they lacked leadership and would be easily divided, bought off or demoralised. He was wrong. On 6 April the biggest ever crowds surrounded the Ministry of Defence and military HQ, and refused to disperse.

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3 October 2013

How Not to Help Somalia

A former prime minister of Somalia, Abdiweli Ali, tells a story that demonstrates the pervasive influence of al-Shabab, even in areas ostensibly controlled by the Somali Federal Government (SFG) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Al-Shabab collects taxes – reportedly as much as the government, and certainly more efficiently. This includes a payroll tax, described as a ‘contribution’, which salaried personnel – government staff among them – are obliged to pay. Abdiweli describes how a defector from al-Shabab who went to work for the government received a visit from a man who told him to pay his ‘contribution’. ‘How will I know whom to pay?’ he asked. ‘You will know,’ the messenger replied. At the end of the month, he went to collect his salary from the cashier at the bank. The cashier said: ‘Now let me receive your contribution.’

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