UN fears ‘unprecedented’ child mortality in Sudan

Tens of thousands of children in Sudan risk finding themselves “on the verge of death” by the end of the year, in a country ravaged by war, epidemics and malnutrition, the UN warned on Tuesday .

Health facilities are under severe pressure due to shortages of staff, medicines and essential equipment, and the country is experiencing a rapidly worsening malnutrition situation since the war between rival generals broke out. on April 15.

Already, more than 1,200 children have died from malnutrition and a suspected measles epidemic since May in refugee camps, according to the UN.

“Given the total devastation of vital services”, UNICEF fears that the youngest in this country will experience “a period of unprecedented mortality”, warned a spokesperson for the organization, James Elder, during a press briefing in Geneva.

Thousands of children have already died, several thousand others risk dying “as long as this crisis continues”, including newborns, he indicated, while explaining that it is very complicated to have verifiable figures.

But he found it “difficult to understand what the world is waiting for” to act because “we are really on the edge of the precipice”.

In a joint statement, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the World Health Organization (WHO) also sounded the alarm on the deterioration of the health situation caused by the crisis in Sudan .

Cholera, dengue, malaria

According to UNHCR teams in White Nile State, more than 1,200 refugee children under the age of 5 died in nine camps between May 15 and September 14, due to the combined effects of a suspected measles epidemic and a high rate of malnutrition.

Most of them were from South Sudan and Ethiopia, Dr.r Allen Maina, Public Health Officer for UNHCR.

More than 3,100 suspected cases of measles were also reported during the same period and more than 500 suspected cases of cholera were reported in other parts of the country, as well as cases of dengue and malaria.

“Dozens of children are dying every day as a result of this devastating conflict and a lack of attention from the international community. We can prevent new deaths, but to do so we need funds for the response, access to those who need it, and above all, an end to the fighting,” underlines the UN High Commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, in the press release.

Local health workers, with the help of WHO and its partners, “desperately need the support of the international community to prevent the spread of epidemics and further deaths”, adds WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

UNICEF is also short of funds. The organization has received less than a quarter of the $838 million it had requested to help nearly 10 million children in Sudan, its spokesperson said in Geneva. “Such a lack of funds will result in lives lost,” he warned.

According to UNICEF, nutrition services are “devastated” in the country. “Every month, 55,000 children must be treated for the deadliest form of malnutrition. However, in Khartoum, less than one nutrition center in 50 is functioning, and in West Darfur, it is one in 10,” Mr. Elder said.

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