95% of Brits don’t identify the “world’s largest” humanitarian crisis, new CAFOD/YouGov poll reveals

A new poll published by CAFOD, conducted by YouGov, has found that only 5% (one in twenty) of British adults think that Sudan is currently experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. This is despite more than 25 million people – half the country’s population – needing urgent emergency assistance, surpassing figures from Gaza, Ukraine, and Syria.

CAFOD, the Catholic development agency, is drawing attention to the situation in Sudan, which has deteriorated rapidly since conflict broke out in April 2023, with over 8.5 million people now displaced from their homes.

The poll also revealed that eight times more people (42%) thought Gaza was the world’s largest crisis than identified Sudan (5%), and nearly five times as many people (23%) chose Ukraine over Sudan. Yet Sudan has been described by the UK Ambassador to the United Nations as being “the world’s worst hunger and displacement crisis.”

Failed harvests and the ongoing conflict mean that up to 8 million people – almost the population of London – could face famine-like conditions by June. However, over three-quarters of the British public (77%) were not aware that the United Nations has warned of a potential famine in Sudan.

Telley Sadia, CAFOD’s Country Representative for Sudan, commented: “Whilst the situation continues to be horrendous for civilians caught up in conflicts in Gaza, Ukraine, and elsewhere, these figures demonstrate how the world’s attention being so firmly fixed on some global crises means the scale of the disaster affecting Sudan is largely unknown.

“Right now, fears of famine loom ominously across the country. Children are already succumbing to starvation as food prices continue to skyrocket and urgent food aid remains out of reach for millions of people.

“As Sudan teeters on the edge of one of the biggest, yet avoidable, humanitarian crises in living memory, it is imperative that the global community unite to provide assistance and support to those in need.”

Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting on Sudan on 19 April, the UK Ambassador to the United Nations, Barbara Woodward, also said: “Civilians are being murdered, women and girls are being raped. Villages are being looted and burned to the ground.”

At a recent funding conference for Sudan held on 15 April in Paris, only half of the $4 billion needed was promised by richer countries. Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, highlighted the severity of the crisis, stating: “What we are witnessing in Sudan is the worst child displacement crisis in the world.” And yet, she said, “in many of our countries, as the war enters in its second year, it is practically absent from our daily news. Every life counts equally, whether in Ukraine, in Gaza, or in Sudan.”

In response to these alarming developments, CAFOD is calling for immediate action from the UK and leading governments from the global north. Specifically, CAFOD urges:

• Support for an emergency appeal to help families caught up in this crisis.

• Stepped-up calls for an immediate ceasefire, civilian protection, and unimpeded humanitarian access.

• Increased funding pledges to meet the $2 billion shortfall required for Sudan’s relief efforts, as identified by the UN, to avert this crisis turning into a catastrophic tragedy.

For more information visit cafod.org.uk/SudanAppeal