Escalating violence in Sudan puts millions of children at risk

A statement by UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell

“Five days of intense hostilities in Sudan, and four failed ceasefires, have already taken a devastating toll on the country’s children. If the violence does not stop, this toll will only increase.

“At least 9 children have reportedly been killed in the fighting, and more than 50 children have reportedly been injured as hostilities continue in Khartoum, the Darfurs and North Kordofan.

The perilous security situation across the country makes it very difficult to collect and verify information, but we know that while fighting continues, children will continue to pay the price.

Many families are trapped in the crossfire, with little or no access to electricity, terrified about the fighting and the possibility of running out of food, water and medicine. Thousands of families have been forced from their homes in search of safety.

We have received reports of children sheltering in schools and care centers while fighting rages around them, of children’s hospitals forced to evacuate as shelling moves closer, and hospitals, health centers and other critical infrastructure damaged or destroyed, limiting access to essential and life-saving care and medicine.

The fighting has disrupted critical, life-saving care for an estimated 50,000 severely acutely malnourished children. These vulnerable children need ongoing, round-the-clock care, which is being put at risk by the escalating violence.

The fighting also puts at risk the cold chain in Sudan, including over $40 million worth of vaccines and insulin, due to the breaks in the power supply and the inability to restock generators with fuel.

Even before the escalation in violence, humanitarian needs in Sudan were higher than ever before. Humanitarian assistance is critical, but UNICEF, and our partners, cannot provide that support if the safety and security of our staff are not guaranteed.

Our hearts and thoughts are with the loved ones of the WFP colleagues who lost their lives or were injured.

UNICEF, and other humanitarian agencies, have been looted by armed individuals. Such attacks on aid workers and organizations are attacks on the children and families we serve.

UNICEF echoes the appeal of the Secretary-General for forces to immediately cease hostilities and calls on all parties to respect their international obligations to protect children from harm, and to ensure that humanitarian actors can safely and quickly reach children in need. 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.”