STORY: Millions of Children at Risk in Sudan- UNICEF
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
RELEASE DATE: 21 April 2023
Six days of escalating violence in Sudan between rival military forces, and several failed ceasefires, have taken a devastating toll on the country’s children, the UN Child Agency (UNICEF) said today at a briefing at the United Nations in Geneva.
“We now have reports of at least 9 children killed, at least 50 have been injured,” said UNICEF spokespersonJames Elder. “Those numbers will continue to rise as long as fighting continues. What is really important to remember is that this fighting, as many of you will have seen, also means you have large numbers of people trapped so they haven’t got access to electricity, and they are terrified of running out of food, of water, of medicines.”
Before hostilities started in Sudan, humanitarian needs for children were higher than ever before. Three quarters of children were estimated to live in extreme poverty, 11,5 million children and community members needed emergency water and sanitation services. Sudan has one of the highest malnutrition rates among children in the world.
“We have now got a situation where critical life-saving support for over 50,000 children is at risk, severely, acutely malnourished children,” said UNICEF’s James Elder. “Now these children are in hospitals because they have the most severe cases so they are being fed with tubes because that is essentially the only way they can be fed, and when the bombing or shelling begins outside hospitals, and when medical staff need to flee, then what?”
The fighting has worsened the situation of vulnerable children in the country, so UNICEF. It also puts at risk the cold chain in Sudan, including over USD 40 million worth of vaccines and insulin, due to the breaks in the power supply and the instability to restock generators with fuel.
“Humanitarian assistance is critical now. UNICEF and our partners can’t provide that support when that safety and security of staff is not guaranteed,” said James Elder. “As the UN Secretary-General has been saying for a week, we need forces to immediately cease hostilities- for all parties to respect their international obligations to keep children away from harm.”
UNICEF also calls on all parties to refrain from attacking civilian infrastructure on which children depend such as water and sanitation systems, health facilities and schools.
“In terms of what can be done, that is why for the moment you keep hearing from the Secretary-General that it requires a cease-fire, because the fighting has been so indiscriminate and so many staff members and partners and so many brave non-governmental organizations on the ground on whom UN agencies rely- they are bunkering down, and going to the Nile to try and get water despite the lack of safety in that both in terms of sanitation and being under fire,” said James Elder.
According to a spokesperson from the World Health Organization (WHO) who cited a Sudanese government source, 413 people died and 3,551 were injured since the conflict broke out on Saturday.
WHO informed further that they have verified 11 attacks on health care facilities that took place since 15th April and that an additional 20 have stopped working.