Children in Sudan at Risk as Conflict Continues

By Samhar Almomani on May 17, 2023

The United Nations (UN) recently reported that seven children are killed or wounded every hour in Sudan due to the ongoing conflict. The agency announced that it had received reports that over 190 children were killed and 1,700 injured only in the first 11 days of the conflict. James Elder, the spokesman for the UN children’s agency UNICEF, emphasized that the numbers have been reported by health facilities in the capital Khartoum and the Darfur region. This means that there could be many other fatalities and injuries that have not reached the health facilities. (euronews, 2023)

“We have received reports of children sheltering in schools and care centers while fighting rages around them, of children’s hospitals forced to evacuate as shelling moves closer, and hospitals, health centers and other critical infrastructure damaged or destroyed,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. (Al Jazeera, 2023)

Children in Sudan were already struggling with malnourishment, displacement and disease before the conflict broke out. Now, the UNICEF estimates that 50,000 severely malnourished children are unable to receive the care they deeply need. The healthcare system cannot keep up with the current surge in injuries and fatalities, especially as the conflict has jeopardized the country’s electric power system. The fighting makes it dangerous to attempt to restock the generators with fuel .(Al Jazeera, 2023)

Healthcare facilities are facing a shortage of vital medical supplies, which include $40m of vaccines and insulin. This shortage has led prices to increase by up to 60 percent of their original price, which makes it impossible to get for people living in poverty. According to the World Health Organization, one-third of the country’s healthcare facilities have shut down, exasperating the problem. (Ferguson, 2023)

The conflict in Khartoum is also leading to an increased exposure of children to recruitment and use of armed groups, as well as sexual violence and exploitation. "Children are bearing the brunt of the conflict in Sudan," said Mandeep O'Brien, UNICEF Representative in Sudan. "They are dying, and their futures are being taken away from them. The impacts of preventing vulnerable children from receiving health, protection and education services will last a lifetime. The fighting must stop so we can urgently better reach all vulnerable children wherever they are". (Ferguson, 2023)

Food has become a rare commodity in the country, as the World Food Programme estimates that $13 million to $14 million worth of food that was meant to be used by people in need in Sudan has been looted. The UN has issued warnings that looters are stealing people’s food, which further plunges the country into a serious malnourishment crisis. (Abdelaziz and Noureldin, 2023)

The global community has pushed for a truce to allow for families and children to safely depart. However, the truce usually does not last for long, putting more children in danger. Another challenge is that the families do not have anywhere else to go. They are leaving behind their homes and personal items, which makes it particularly difficult to start up a new life elsewhere. Even in families had another home in Sudan, the whole country is facing a period of instability and increasing hostilities. (Abdelaziz and Noureldin, 2023)

Facing a humanitarian crisis, refugees have been flocking to neighboring countries in search of peace and stability. Estimates say that at least 270,000 people are expected to flee the conflict in Sudan and seek refuge in countries like the Central African Republic, Chad, and Egypt. In a region already facing resource shortages, this surge in refugees is likely to result in placing more stress on local systems. For example, the citizens of a village in Chad find themselves outnumbered by the number of refugees coming from Sudan. At least 20,000 refugees have already crossed the border, with more arriving everyday. (Ferguson, 2023)

Both sides, which are factions of the military, have used weapons of war, such as tanks and explosives. There does not seem to be an end in sight, as neither side is willing to compromise. The people most affected by this crisis are families and children. Many children who could not escape now see an elongated conflict that will stop them from going back to their previous lives. Many of them will never see their friends or visit their schools again.


Abdelaziz, K., & Noureldin, M. (2023, May 4). Heavy fighting in Khartoum; Sudan's children caught in conflict, Un says. Reuters.

Al Jazeera, A. J. (2023, April 20). Escalating Sudan fighting puts millions of children at risk. UNICEF News | Al Jazeera.

euronews. (2023, May 5). Un says seven children are being killed or injured every hour in Sudan. euronews.

Ferguson, S. (2023, April 27). Children in Sudan at high risk as armed conflict continues. UNICEF USA.

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