Over 1,200 children have died in Sudan refugee camps, Unicef says

Tuesday September 19 2023

A refugee looks on from behind a fence as she waits with others at the Village 8 border reception center in Sudan's eastern Gedaref State on November 20, 2020. PHOTO | AFP


Over 1,200 children have died in Sudan refugee camps since May, while thousands of newborns are likely to die across the war-torn country by year-end, the United Nations said Tuesday.

The UN sounded the alarm over the impact the crisis in Sudan is having on the health of children.

"On the back of a cruel disregard for civilians and the relentless attacks on health and nutrition services, Unicef fears many thousands of newborns will die between now and the end of the year," UN children's agency spokesman James Elder told reporters in Geneva.

He pointed out that 333,000 children are due to be born in the country between October and December.

"At the same time, nutrition services in the war-ravaged country have been devastated," he said.

Read: Red Cross evacuates 300 children from Khartoum orphanage


"Every month 55,000 children require treatment for the most lethal form of malnutrition, and yet in Khartoum less than one in 50 nutrition centres is functional," Elder said, adding that in West Darfur, it's one in 10.

The UN refugee agency, for its part, said its teams in Sudan's White Nile state had determined that between May 15 and September 14, more than 1,200 children under the age of five had died across nine refugee camps.

"Those camps were hosting mainly refugees from South Sudan and Ethiopia," Allen Maina, UNHCR chief of public health told reporters in Geneva.

"Another 3,100 suspected cases of measles were also reported in the same period, and more than 500 suspected cases of cholera have been reported in other parts of the country, along with outbreaks of dengue and malaria," the agency said.

"The world has the means and the money to prevent every one of these deaths from measles or malnutrition," UNHCR Chief Filippo Grandi said in a statement.

Read: Sudan, South Sudan report measles outbreak

"We can prevent more deaths, but need money for the response, access to those in need, and above all, an end to the fighting."

"Unicef also said it sorely lacked funds, noting that it had received just a quarter of the $838 million it had requested to help 10 million children in Sudan," Elder said.

"Such a funding gap will mean lives lost."