'The situation is critical': More than 3 million children now displaced from their homes in Sudan
The conflict in Sudan has reached a grim new milestone, with the country now holding the highest number of internally displaced people on earth.
At least 7.1 million people, including an estimated 3.3 million children, are now displaced from their homes across Sudan, a number which has nearly doubled since devastating conflict ripped through the country in mid-April.
The number of displaced people in Sudan now eclipses other war-torn countries with massive internal displacements, including the next highest country Syria (with 6.6 million people), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (6.1 million people) and Ukraine (5.1 million people).
Millions of desperate families fleeing conflict are now sheltering wherever they can find safety, including in schools, in camps, with relatives, and in some cases out in the open. Many families have found themselves displaced multiple times when the place they were seeking safety came under attack.
Prior to the conflict, around 3.2 million people were already displaced in Sudan, in addition to 1.1 million refugees who had also already been living in Sudan.
“Millions of displaced children and families need help, now. They need food, water, shelter, clothing, medicines – the absolute basics," said Dr Arif Noor, Save the Children’s Country Director in Sudan.
"Beyond this, they need psychological support to help cope with the intense stress they are under. Children have been on the run for four months now; they have lost family members and have watched their homes and schools, places they once felt safe, become rubble. The situation is critical."
Many communities where newly displaced families are arriving are already facing challenges as a result of existing crises, with basic services already overstretched.
Massive aid funding shortfalls, combined with drastically reduced domestic food production and severe water shortages have left displaced families in a dire situation.
Looting, delays in approvals and attacks on humanitarian assets, including warehouses have further hampered the relief effort and made delivering essentials to displaced families in some places nearly impossible.
“The war in Sudan shows no signs of abating. In fact, it is getting worse," adds Dr Arif. "The cost of inaction is severe. The international community needs to step up and work to collectively ensure that funding is channelled directly to community groups, who still have access, and work to secure access to ensure life-saving aid is delivered to children and families before it’s too late.”
Furtheremore, outbreaks of dengue fever and acute watery diarrhoea have "killed hundreds" with medics warning of "catastrophic spreads" that could overwhelm the country's decimated health system.
In a statement, the Sudanese doctors' union warned that the health situation in the southeastern state of Gedaref, on the border with Ethiopia, "is deteriorating at a horrific rate", with thousands infected with dengue fever.
More than five months into the war, 80 percent of the hospitals in Sudan are out of service, according to the United Nations. Even before the war, the fragile healthcare system struggled to contain the annual disease outbreaks that accompany the country's rainy season starting in June, including malaria — endemic in Sudan — and dengue fever