Sudan’s children trapped in critical malnutrition crisis, warn UN agencies

GENEVA/NEW YORK/ROME: Three United Nations agencies today issued a stark warning that all indications point to a significant deterioration of the nutrition situation for children and mothers in war-torn Sudan. The lives of Sudan’s children are at stake and urgent action is needed to protect an entire generation from malnutrition, disease and death.

Child malnutrition in Sudan is at emergency levels. In Central Darfur, acute malnutrition is estimated to be at 15.6 percent among children under 5, while in ZamZam camp it’s close to 30%. The situation has deteriorated over recent months, with no sign of abating due to continued conflict and severely hindered humanitarian access. Acute malnutrition is life-threatening, with malnourished children up to 11 times more likely to die than a well-nourished child.

As much as 30 percent of child malnutrition begins in utero, so children born to malnourished mothers are likely to be already malnourished themselves.“Children in Sudan are experiencing horrific violence, displacement and trauma – and now they are confronted with potential famine,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.Mothers and children across Sudan are wasting away from malnutrition. The ongoing war has stripped them of everything they need to survive – food, medical support and shelter. We need immediate and safe access to deliver the humanitarian assistance that they so desperately need. Without it, this crisis risks becoming the world’s largest hunger emergency”, said WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain. “Millions of lives are at stake and the international community must act now or we risk losing an entire generation of children

“Malnutrition is not a one-time crisis. Malnourished children face a lifetime of developmental challenges and ill-health and are also more likely to die from infectious diseases”, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The clock is ticking, edging Sudan’s mothers and children closer to famine. WHO and partners are on the ground working to prevent and treat acute malnutrition to save precious lives but we need sustained humanitarian access and full financial backing to be able to do this.”

Over the coming months the situation for Sudan’s children and mothers will only worsen: the rainy season, which will cut off communities and raise rates of disease, starts in June.The agencies call for immediate, unimpeded and consistent access to communities who are suffering the worst effects of the brutal and lengthy conflict, through all possible crossline and cross-border routes with neighbouring countries, as well as a de-escalation of the situation in El Fasher and a nationwide ceasefire. We also count on a renewed and significant scaled up support from donors. The window to avert the worst is rapidly closing.

WFP News

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