Escalating violence between rival military forces in Sudan is putting millions of children at risk, UNICEF warns as the fighting continues for a sixth day.
The battles between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have had a “devastating toll on the country’s children”, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement on Thursday.
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At least nine children have reportedly been killed and more than 50 wounded since the conflict broke out on Saturday, the statement said.
“We have received reports of children sheltering in schools and care centres while fighting rages around them, of children’s hospitals forced to evacuate as shelling moves closer, and hospitals, health centres and other critical infrastructure damaged or destroyed,” Russell said.
The United Nations children’s agency said the fighting has worsened the situation of vulnerable children in the country. More than 50,000 severely malnourished children are no longer receiving the care they need, it said.
Vital medical supplies, including more than $40m of vaccines and insulin, are in jeopardy as electrical power shuts off and comes back on, and the fighting makes it impossible to restock generators with fuel, the statement said.
Meanwhile, a doctors union said up to 70 percent of hospitals in the capital, Khartoum, and neighbouring states have gone “out of service”.
The World Health Organization has also warned that hospitals are running out of blood, transfusion equipment, intravenous fluids and other vital supplies due to the fighting, which so far has killed more than 300 people and wounded thousands. The real toll is feared to be much higher because there is no information about army and RSF casualties.
UNICEF called for an end to hostilities and urged all parties to “respect their international obligations to protect children from harm and to ensure that humanitarian actors can safely and quickly reach children in need”.
A fourth ceasefire, which could have helped the wounded get medical attention and humanitarian organisations provide aid to civilians, did not hold on Wednesday.
Each side has blamed the other for failing to uphold the short truce.