The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday reported that no fewer than 435 children had been killed and more than 2,000 others injured in 100 days of fighting in Sudan.
UNICEF stated that the figure is based on credible reports, noting that the true figure was likely to be far higher.
The UN agency added that there had been more than 2,500 severe violations of children’s rights – an average of more than one per hour – in a country where 14 million youngsters need aid relief.
“As we reach more than 100 days since the conflict in Sudan escalated, we know that it is taking an absolutely horrific toll on children and on families,” Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, Farhan Haq quoted UNICEF as saying.
Haq told journalists at UN headquarters in New York that the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has also reported that nearly 300 displaced children had died from measures and malnutrition in White Nile State.
According to UNHCR, conditions are “harrowing” for those reaching shelter in neighbouring countries, where displacement camps are overcrowded and the rainy season has made relocation and aid deliveries harder.
To date, more than 3.3 million people have been displaced within Sudan and across its borders, including to Egypt, where UNHCR said that most children continue to arrive without their parents.
Despite intense diplomatic efforts to end the fighting – notably by the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional body, the League of Arab States and the UN – clashes involving the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and rival Rapid Support Forces (RSF) milita have continued across multiple fronts.
To date, the UN response inside Sudan is only 23 per cent funded.
Both UNHCR and UNICEF have urgently appealed for more donor support to assist vulnerable populations who have endured three months of fighting, concentrated around the capital Khartoum, but spreading far into restive Darfur and other regions.
Healthcare inside Sudan has reached “gravely serious levels” of collapse, with more than 67 per cent of the country’s hospitals out of service and with increasing reports of attacks on facilities and personnel, according to the UN World Health Organisation.
There are now 51 recorded attacks on healthcare verified by WHO, resulting in 10 deaths and 24 injuries.
“It is a tragedy and an outrage that in the middle of this deepening crisis fighters continue to attack health facilities and workers, denying life-saving services to innocent civilians when they are at their most vulnerable”, said the statement.
WHO warned that diseases such as malaria, measles, dengue and acute diarrhea, which hitherto were well under control, were increasing due to the disruption of basic public health services.
The disrupted services include disease surveillance, functioning public health laboratories and rapid response teams.
“As the rainy season begins in Sudan, outbreaks are likely to claim more lives unless urgent action is taken to curtail their spread.” (NAN)