UNICEF says 7 children killed or injured every hour by fighting in Sudan

UNICEF says 7 children killed or injured every hour by fighting in Sudan
UNICEF says the reality was likely to be "much worse".
3 min read
06 May, 2023
Sudan has been rocked by fighting since 15 April [AFP/Getty]

Sudan's deadly conflict saw a "frighteningly large" number of children - 190 -  killed in just the first 11 days, a United Nations agency said on Friday.

UNICEF, the UN's children's agency, cited reports running from the beginning of the fighting, which erupted on 15 April, until 25 April – meaning deaths in the days since were not counted.

The reports said 1,700 other children were injured.

UNICEF spokesperson James Elder briefed journalists in Geneva on the situation, cautioning that estimates couldn't be confirmed given the severity of the clashes.

"That is, we have reports that, on average, every single hour over this first 11-day period of fighting, seven children have been killed or injured," Elder said. "Seven children. Every hour."

Only children who had contact with medical facilities were included in the figures, Elder said, adding that the reality was therefore likely "much worse".

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While there was no individual information about the children, the figures came from Khartoum and the Darfur region, areas hit hard by fighting, Elder said.

"Children have now been living amid terrifying violence for three weeks in Sudan," he added.

"Places where they simply must be safe – homes, schools and hospitals – have consistently come under attack, and continue to do so.

"Time and again UNICEF and partners have called on parties to the conflict to stop all attacks on health centres, schools, and water and sanitation systems upon which children rely. Time and again the attacks continue."

Elder said there were attacks against humanitarian workers and humanitarian facilities, vehicles and supplies, including UNICEF's, have experienced looting or destruction.

"All such attacks undermine our capacity to reach children across the country with lifesaving health, nutrition, water and sanitation services," he added.

"Again, we join so many others in underlining the criticality that all parties to the conflict adhere to international law: to fulfil their obligations to protect children, and to ensure that humanitarian actors can safely operate on the ground to support civilians in need."

Separately, UNICEF on Friday said more than one million polio vaccinations meant for children have been destroyed as a result of looting in Sudan during the upsurge in violence since April.

"A number of cold chain facilities have been looted, damaged and destroyed, including over a million polio vaccines in South Darfur," Hazel De Wet, deputy director of the Office of Emergency Programmes, UNICEF told Reuters in an email.

A weeklong ceasefire officially began in Sudan on Thursday but clashes have failed to stop.

The fighting, which has claimed hundreds of lives, is taking place between the army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The army is headed by the country's de facto ruler, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, while Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, popularly known as "Hemedti", is at the helm of the RSF.

Hemedti was previously Sudan's deputy leader, working alongside Burhan in Khartoum's military government.

Reuters contributed to this report.