“Four million children have been displaced. That’s 13,000 children every single day, for 300 days. Safety, gone. Worldly possessions, gone. Friends and family members separated or lost. Hope, fading.”
This is despite repeated dire warnings about the scale and severity of the hunger and displacement crisis in Sudan, after rival Sudanese militaries embarked on a brutal conflict last April. Both forces have since refused to heed regional and international calls for peace.
Describing his visit last week to Sudan’s Darfurs, Mr. Elder told journalists in Geneva that of the more than 700,000 children who are likely to suffer severe acute malnutrition – the most dangerous form of hunger – UNICEF “won’t be able to treat more than 300,000 of those without improved access and without additional support. In that case, tens of thousands would likely die.”
International efforts to help the people of Sudan and Sudanese refugees include Wednesday’s joint appeal by OCHA and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. Assistance can’t come too soon for dangerously malnourished under-fives, warned the UN health agency’s Tarik Jasarevic, who stressed the immediate positive impact on removing all aid obstacles.
Babies can bounce back
“These babies can recover very quickly. If there is a possibility to provide them with therapeutic feeding, babies in a matter of few days can go from the brink of death to be playing, you know, in those (nutrition) centres,” he said.
Country’s future in balance
In addition to millions of people uprooted by the conflict and life-threatening hunger, the people of Sudan have also endured a 500 per cent increase in verified cases of killings, sexual violence and recruitment into armed groups compared with a year ago.
“That equates to a terrifying number of children killed, raped or recruited. And these numbers are, of course, the tip of the iceberg,” Mr. Elder said.
“This, then, is a war destroying health and nutrition systems, and that is killing people,” he insisted. “This is a war destroying the concept of respect for the laws of war, and that is killing people. This is a war destroying families’ ability to feed and protect themselves, and that is killing people. But this is also a war destroying opportunity, and that destroys a country and the future of an entire generation.”