LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Christian leaders in Great Britain are saying the conflict in Sudan has “no winners.”

Over 8.5 million Sudanese have been forced to flee their homes in Sudan since the war between rival militaries erupted in April 2023, according to the United Nations.

The civil war is between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group.

Sudan is now in the grip of the world’s worst hunger and displacement crisis. The UN says deliberate obstruction and targeting of aid convoys is preventing life-saving supplies from reaching those most in need.

“The actions of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continue to have devastating consequences for the people of Sudan,” said a joint statement from Bishop Paul Swarbrick, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales Lead Bishop for Africa, and Bishop Nick Baines, the Church of England’s Lead Bishop for Foreign Affairs.

RELATED: Catholic international aid group says ‘urgent action is imperative’ for Sudan

“However, today, with attention turned elsewhere, Sudan remains largely overlooked – a forgotten conflict with no winners that is already one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of our time,” the bishops said.

“The war has triggered the world’s largest hunger crisis, coupled with the worst ongoing displacement crisis worldwide,” their statement continued.

The World Food Program reports that there are now 10.5 million people displaced in Sudan, with over 25 million people in need of humanitarian aid. Nearly 15,000 have already been killed, and 26,000 more have been injured, with women and children bearing the brunt of the violence.

“Sudan, a place with which we have strong connections and with whose people we are deeply engaged, demands our collective attention and focus,” the Catholic and Anglican bishops say.

“To the UK government and the international community – we plead with you to do what you can to bring about an immediate ceasefire and to ensure unhindered humanitarian access. It is so desperately needed to avert a further catastrophic humanitarian hunger crisis,” Swarbrick and Baines add.

RELATED: On one-year anniversary of Sudan war, Caritas warns of humanitarian crisis

On Thursday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported the agency continues to be “deeply disturbed” by the situation for civilians in and around El Fasher – the capital of North Darfur State – where clashes and tensions have escalated.

“We are particularly alarmed about restrictions on civilian movements and reports that civilians are being attacked and robbed while attempting to flee south from the city,” the UN agency said.

A major assault on El Fasher would put more than 800,000 civilians in grave danger – including more than 200,000 people internally displaced since the start of the war a year ago.

OCHA says fighting in and around the city has already cut off humanitarian access to civilians who desperately need assistance.

“If the violence in El Fasher escalates, more than 360,000 people will be deprived of food assistance and livelihood support, and more than 100,000 people will lose out on shelter assistance. It could also impede humanitarian access to other states in Darfur,” the agency said.

“We reiterate our call for an immediate de-escalation and for the parties to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, including by taking constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects. This includes allowing civilians to leave for safe areas. Civilians must receive the essentials they need to survive – including food, shelter and health services,” the OCHA report said.

The agency also flagged its “deep concern” about the wider humanitarian crisis in Sudan. A group of 10 Emergency Directors from UN agencies and NGOs wrapped up a joint mission to Sudan this week “to sound the alarm” over the absolutely devastating situation across the country, including catastrophic food insecurity levels and a growing risk of famine.

“Humanitarians urgently need expanded access – across conflict lines and borders – to reach people in need wherever they are. They also need more resources; despite generous pledges made in Paris two weeks ago, the Sudan humanitarian appeal remains only 10 percent funded,” the UN agency said.

A new poll published this week by CAFOD – the official international aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales – says only 5 percent of British adults think that Sudan is currently experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, surpassing figures from Gaza, Ukraine, and Syria.

The poll conducted by YouGov revealed that eight times more people (42 percent) thought Gaza was the world’s largest crisis, with 23 percent choosing Ukraine over Sudan.

RELATED: Catholic aid agency launches emergency appeal to support ‘world’s worst crisis’ in Sudan

Telley Sadia, CAFOD’s Country Representative for Sudan, said while the situation “continues to be horrendous for civilians” caught up in conflicts in Gaza, Ukraine, and elsewhere, the new 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,” he said.

“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,” Sadia added.

Follow Charles Collins on X: @CharlesinRome