1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Sudan: Malnutrition threatens 700,000 children, UN says

February 9, 2024

UNICEF warned that tens of thousands of malnourished children could die without enough aid. The country has been locked in a vicious conflict for 10 months.

Sudanese IDPs taking shelter in a school building
The Sudan war has sparked a humanitarian crisis for internally displaced people and children in the country Image: Omer Erdem/Anadolu/picture alliance

The United Nations' children's agency UNICEF warned on Friday of the risk of malnutrition looming over war-torn Sudan's children, amid a shortage of aid reaching the country.

James Elder, spokesperson for UNICEF, told a press conference in Geneva that tens of thousands of malnourished children could die this year.

Sudan's military, uner the leadership of General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, has been embroiled in a vicious, 10-month fight for power with its paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), who are led by Burhan's number two, Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

What did UNICEF say?

Elder said that over 700,000 children are likely to suffer "from the deadliest form of malnutrition this year," due to the past 300 days of fighting.

"UNICEF won't be able to treat more than 300,000 of those without improved access and without additional support," Elder said. "In that case, tens of thousands would likely die."

He identified severe acute malnutrition as the most dangerous form, saying it was threatening 3.5 million children. This form of malnutrition makes a child 10 times more likely to die from diseases like cholera and malaria.

The UN agency is appealing for $840 million (€778.68 million) to help just over 7.5 million children in Sudan this year. Elder deplored the lack of funds collected in previous appeals.

"Despite the magnitude of needs, last year the funding UNICEF sought for nearly three-quarters of children in Sudan was not forthcoming," he said.

Hunger catastrophe looms in Sudan's 'forgotten war': UN

UN appeals for humanitarian aid

Elders also sounded the alarm regarding a "500% increase" in murders, sexual violence and recruitment of child soldiers in just one year, describing the numbers as "just the tip of the iceberg."

"That equates to terrifying numbers of children killed, raped or recruited," he said.

The conflict, ongoing since mid-April 2023, has rendered half of Sudan's population, some 25 million, in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Over 1.5 million are meanwhile estimated to have fled to neighboring countries.

On Wednesday, the UN appealed for $4.1 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of those stuck in Sudan as well as those who sought asylum elsewhere.

Sudan's plight: 25 million people need humanitarian aid

rmt/wd (AFP, Reuters)