UN Expresses Deep Concern Over Thousands of Sudanese Children at Risk of Death Due to Malnutrition and Disease
United Nations Expresses Concern for Children in Sudan
The United Nations recently expressed grave concern for the lives of thousands of children in Sudan, where acute malnutrition and contagious disease outbreaks are rampant. This coincides with the ongoing conflict between the national army and the Rapid Support forces. Tragically, around 1,200 children have already perished from measles and malnutrition in nine refugee camps across Sudan since May.
Staggering Numbers, Soaring Predictions
UN representatives have indicated that thousands more newborns could potentially succumb before the close of the year. “More than 1,200 children under the age of five died in nine camps between May 15 and September 14,” stated Alan MENA, a public health officer at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The primary reasons being a possible outbreak of measles and pervasive acute malnutrition.
The camps in question primarily house refugees from South Sudan and Ethiopia. Over the same period, another 3,100 suspected measles cases were reported, in addition to more than 500 prospective cholera cases across other regions of the country and outbreaks of dengue fever and malaria.
Conflict and Child Health
The current political crisis in Sudan deeply worries the United Nations, due to the significant impact it might have on child health. The outbreak of war has already led to an estimated death toll of 7,500 people, 435 of these being children. Nonetheless, this is likely a severe underestimation. Approximately five million individuals have been displaced, either rendered internally displaced or forced to seek refuge in neighboring countries such as Egypt and Chad. Further exacerbating the crisis is the fact that 80% of health sector facilities in Sudan are non-operational.
Alarming Projections, Absence of Services
Similarly, UNICEF Spokesman James Elder conveyed the inevitability of more child casualties unless immediate and effective action is taken. He projects that 333,000 children are expected to be born in Sudan between October and December, while nutrition services in the country are crippled due to the ongoing conflict. He warned of an “unprecedented number of deaths” among younger Sudanese.
Commenting on the severity of the situation, Elder stated, “We are really on the edge of the abyss.” Acute malnutrition treatment is required for approximately 55,000 children each month, but nutrition centers’ functionality is bleak. In Khartoum, less than one of every 50 nutrition centers is operational while in western Darfur, the ratio is even worse, with only one of every ten operational.
Call for Global Action
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi urged the global community to intervene, stating, “The world has the means and the money to prevent all these deaths from measles or malnutrition.” He underscored the need for resources, humanitarian access, and above all, the cessation of warfare. “I don’t quite understand what the world is waiting for” to help, Elder wondered. UNICEF, in critical need of funding, reported having secured only a quarter of the requested sum ($838 million) to aid Sudan’s 10 million children, indicating that this funding gap could result in further tragic loss of lives.
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