Civilians Flee Fighting in Sudan for Troubled Neighboring Countries

The countries they are fleeing to are themselves vulnerable. In just the past few years, there has been the civil war in Ethiopia, hunger and economic challenges in South Sudan, and a coup in Chad, for instance. Aid workers have warned that a broader displacement of people fleeing the fighting in Sudan could have a disastrous effect on those neighboring nations.

When the fighting broke out in Khartoum, pockets of violence also flared up in the western Darfur region. That sent up to 20,000 people — mostly women and children — fleeing into neighboring Chad, which is already home to more than 400,000 Sudanese refugees, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

South Sudan, one of the poorest nations in the world, is already bracing for what could be a catastrophic economic shock. While most of the South Sudanese living in Sudan are refugees, the rest are migrants who typically support their families back home. The fighting could interrupt those flows of money and limit cross-border trade.

Markets in the north of South Sudan, filled with goods brought in from Sudan, already have less to offer as fighting disrupts the supply chain, Mr. Van der Auweraert of the International Organization for Migration said. And the South Sudanese pound has begun to lose value.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, is wrestling with its own internal problems, particularly stemming from the yearslong civil war that has devastated the economy, cost the lives of more than 400,000 people and displaced 4.3 million others. About three-quarters of the population, or more than nine million people, are in need of humanitarian aid, according to the International Organization for Migration.

“We do not want to get into a situation where we have to deprive people in South Sudan that are also in need,” said Mr. Van der Auweraert, with the International Organization for Migration. “There’s going to be difficult decisions to be made.”

Matina Stevis-Gridneff contributed reporting.

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