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War in Sudan has left millions of children malnourished, UN warns

THE war in Sudan has left millions of children malnourished since it began nearly a year ago, the United Nations said today.

Fighting broke out on April 15 2023 between the military, led by General Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), commanded by General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

Close to nine million people have been forced to flee their homes, according to the UN, and more than one million have left the country. 

Thousands of lives have been lost in a conflict overshadowed internationally by the wars in Gaza and Ukraine. 

The UN has warned of an impending generational catastrophe, with women and children suffering the worst effects. 

An estimated three million youngsters are malnourished, about 19 million children are not going to school and a quarter of Sudan’s hospitals are no longer functioning.

A growing number of children are arriving at a paediatric unit run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) with pulmonary complications due to the harsh environment. 

The charity has also documented a rise in cases of hepatitis E, which can be deadly for pregnant women.

At the unit, MSF hospital co-ordinator Cordula Haffner said today: “Many, many of our babies are severely malnourished.

“The reason is hygiene, not enough food, not enough water. This is a crisis that will continue. We will see even more children like this.”

More than 16,000 under-fives arriving in Chad from Sudan have had severe acute malnutrition, according to the UN — the stage at which the effects of hunger are clearly visible.

MSF executive director in the United States Avril Benoit said: “We are seeing a catastrophe unfolding in North Darfur, where our teams have estimated that 13 children are dying each day of malnutrition and related health conditions at a camp for displaced people.”

She urged the Sudanese authorities to stop blocking aid deliveries.

In Darfur, brutal attacks by the Arab-dominated RSF on ethnic African civilians have revived memories of genocide.

Two decades ago, as many as 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million were driven from their homes by government-backed Arab militias. 

Now, prosecutors at the International Criminal Court say there are grounds to believe both sides in the current conflict are committing war crimes.

West Darfur, especially its capital Geneina, has witnessed some of the worst atrocities, including mass killings and rampant sexual violence against the African Masalit tribe, according to UN experts. 

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