IOC president Thomas Bach pledges support for Sudan. GETTY IMAGES

IOC President Thomas Bach met in late April with his Sudan Olympic Committee counterpart Ahmed Abu Elgasim Hashim to discuss the humanitarian situation in the country as war rages in Khartoum and Darfur.

Just over a year ago, fighting broke out between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Sudan's military government - the Sudanese Armed Forces - after a row concerning the RSF's integration into the army.

Clashes have been concentrated in and around the capital Khartoum and the Darfur region in the west of the country with an estimated 16,000 people killed and 8.6 million forced to leave their homes. There are fears of more grave consequences as the RSF tries to take the city of El Fasher - the army's last hold in Darfur - which houses the Zamzam and Abu Shouk refugee camps. The RSF has bombarded El Fasher for months, but the latest escalation in violence has blocked the arrival of aid from neighbouring Chad with famine and disease taking hold.

Last month, Elgasim Hashim - who is also the Secretary General of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) - spoke with Bach about the conflict. He said, "Despite the extremely dire situation in my country, sport can still play a role in bringing people together because this is a grave situation for the Olympic Community and for sport in Sudan, with NOC headquarters destroyed and sporting infrastructure badly damaged. Many members of the Olympic Community have been trapped in Khartoum, the capital city, because of the escalating and unpredictable violence there."

Bach stated, "I was deeply moved on learning about the scale of the tragedy unfolding in Sudan. As a sports organisation, we must acknowledge the limits of what we can do. We are fully activating our partnership with the UN system, and in particular UNHCR, to offer our contribution to the aid effort with regard to the Olympic Community in Sudan. We are committed to immediate ‘ad hoc’ help to those in extreme need and will also strengthen our support for the Sudanese athletes who have the chance to represent Sudan at the Olympic Games Paris 2024. Through Olympic Solidarity and the Olympic Refuge Foundation, the IOC will offer physical and mental health support through sports programmes for displaced people in refugee camps.

"The IOC is committed to helping the members of the Olympic Community in Sudan in most need with regard to their basic needs and safety and security. A number of NOCs are already giving assistance, by hosting Sudanese athletes who have had to flee the violence and famine, and the IOC will strengthen this support to give them an extra boost in their preparations for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, beyond the Olympic scholarships they already receive."

Chad has taken the majority of those fleeing Sudan but, with its camps unable to cope, several refugees have headed north to Libya with some embarking on perilous crossings of the Mediterranean to Europe. Two athletes displaced from Sudan by previous conflicts have been named in the 36-strong Refugee Olympic Team for Paris 2024.