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Sudan: Almost 500 children 'die from hunger' as conflict leads to closure of services

Save the Children says it has been forced to close 57 of its nutrition facilities, leaving 31,000 children missing out on life-saving treatment
Sudanese women wait at a hospital in Port Sudan on 13 August 2023 as people seek medical care amid soaring temperatures (AFP)

Nearly 500 children have died in Sudan as a result of losing access to life-saving drugs and food in the country, according to Save the Children.

According to a statement on Tuesday, the charity has been forced to close 57 of its nutrition facilities, leaving 31,000 children missing out on treatment for malnutrition and related illnesses.

The conflict in the country, ongoing since April, has seen around 5,000 people killed and more than four million uprooted, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

Medical facilities have been particularly hard hit, with huge numbers forced to close across the country as a result of the fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and their erstwhile allies, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

“Seriously ill children are arriving in the arms of desperate mothers and fathers at nutrition centres across the country and our staff have few options on how to treat them. We are seeing children dying from entirely preventable hunger,” said Arif Noor, Save the Children’s country director in Sudan, in a statement.

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“The looting of UN warehouses, the burning of the therapeutic food factory, and the lack of funding have put significant strain on supplies of therapeutic nutritional products across the country."

Earlier this month, dozens of human rights organisations, activists, lawyers, doctors and others issued a statement calling on the UN Security Council to refer the violations committed by the main warring parties to the International Criminal Court.

'We are seeing children dying from entirely preventable hunger'

- Arif Noor, Save the Children

In the statement, the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan condemned atrocities committed by both the SAF and the RSF, which is supported by Arab armed groups in Darfur.

The mission condemned the indiscriminate targeting of civilian populations and public facilities by the RSF and allied militias, particularly in the locality of Sirba - 45km north of West Darfur's capital el-Geneina - between 24 and 26 July.

Eyewitnesses who have escaped Darfur previously told MEE that the RSF was targeting members of the local non-Arab Masalit ethnic group, while in el-Geneina, the unburied bodies of the dead were left in the streets. The RSF has denied the accusations.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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