The conflict tearing through Sudan could plunge more than 700,000 children into severe malnutrition this year, the UN cautioned on Friday, emphasizing that without a significant boost in aid, tens of thousands could face a fatal outcome.
Urging the world to acknowledge the devastating impact of the 10-month civil war, UNICEF called on everyone to stop turning a blind eye to the unfolding catastrophe.
‘The consequences of the past 300 days means that more than 700,000 children are likely to suffer from the deadliest form of malnutrition this year,’ spokesman James Elder told reporters in Geneva.
‘We won’t be able to treat more than 300,000 of them without improved access and additional support,’ said Elder, just back from a trip to Sudan.
‘Tens of thousands will likely die.’
UN experts report that the conflict ignited in April of the previous year between Sudan’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, the commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, has claimed thousands of lives.
The western Darfur region has witnessed a tragic loss of 10,000 to 15,000 lives, according to UN experts.
The conflict has sparked a humanitarian disaster.
According to UN statistics, the scale of urgency is evident as around 25 million people, representing more than half the population, require aid, with nearly 18 million facing the pressing issue of acute food insecurity.
The escalating malnutrition rates, combined with the rampant spread of diseases such as cholera, measles, and malaria, are already claiming the lives of children.
Doctors Without Borders charity (MSF) brought attention to the poignant situation in the sprawling Zamzam camp for displaced people in Darfur, where at least one child passes away every two hours.
The war has set off one of the world’s largest displacement crises, leading to the exodus of nearly eight million people from their homes, with children accounting for half of this population.
“That’s 13,000 children every single day for 300 days,” Elder pointed out.
He said there had also been a “500-percent increase” in just one year in murders, sexual violence and recruitment of children to fight.
“That equates to terrifying numbers of children killed, raped or recruited. And these numbers are the tip of the iceberg,” Elder said, reiterating the urgent need for a ceasefire, and for more aid.
To address the humanitarian crisis, the UN appealed for $4.1 billion this week to assist civilians within Sudan and those who have become refugees.
UNICEF has specifically requested $840 million of the $4.1 billion to reach 7.6 million of the most vulnerable children.
Three-quarters of the agency’s appeal last year went without funding, prompting Elder to implore donors to increase their contributions.