Children at Risk of Death in Sudan Due to Disease, Malnutrition, Warns UN

Tue Sep 19 2023
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GENEVA: The United Nations has issued a dire warning about the deteriorating situation in Sudan, where thousands of children are at risk of death due to the escalating violence, rampant disease, and severe malnutrition that have taken hold in the conflict-ridden country.

The UN refugee agency revealed that more than 1,200 children in refugee camps have succumbed to various causes since May, with a measles outbreak being a significant contributing factor.

Additionally, thousands of children are facing death due to malnutrition and lack of access to essential healthcare, according to UNICEF, the UN’s children’s agency.

James Elder, a spokesman for UNICEF, expressed deep concern, stating, “UNICEF fears Sudan’s youngest citizens are entering a period of unprecedented mortality. We are really on the precipice.”

Sudan has been torn apart by violent conflict that erupted on April 15 between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who leads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The ongoing violence has claimed the lives of at least 7,500 people across the nation, as estimated by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

Furthermore, the war has severely damaged the country’s already fragile infrastructure, leading to the closure of 80 percent of hospitals, displacing millions, and plunging millions more into severe hunger.

The crisis is most devastating for Sudan’s youngest population, as the fighting has officially claimed the lives of 435 children, though Elder believes the true number is far higher.

UNICEF is deeply concerned that “many thousands of children… will die in the next few months,” with fears that “many thousands died in the last few months,” Elder explained.

Elder stressed the dire situation, saying, “It’s hard to quite understand what the world is waiting for,” while highlighting the “cruel disregard for civilians and the relentless attacks on health and nutrition services,” which are endangering the lives of countless newborns.

Since the conflict’s inception, the World Health Organization has verified 56 attacks on healthcare facilities and personnel, resulting in at least 11 deaths and 38 injuries.

Sudan Grappling with Outbreaks

In addition to malnutrition and violence, Sudan is grappling with outbreaks of measles, cholera, dengue, and malaria. The UN refugee agency reported over 1,200 deaths among children under the age of five and thousands of suspected measles and cholera cases in refugee camps.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi stressed the urgency of the situation, stating, “The world has the means and the money to prevent every one of these deaths from measles or malnutrition… We can prevent more deaths, but need money for the response, access to those in need, and above all, an end to the fighting.”

UNICEF echoed this plea for funds, revealing that it has received only a quarter of the $838 million it had requested to aid 10 million children in Sudan. The agency warned that such a substantial funding gap would result in more lives lost.

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