SUDAN: Armed groups loot medical supplies and aid from Save the Children
KHARTOUM, 17 April 2023 – Looters have stolen medical supplies for children as well as a refrigerator, laptops and cars in a raid on Save the Children’s offices in Darfur as Sudan succumbs to its third day of intensified fighting with the capital Khartoum paralysed.
The violence has also forced Save the Children to temporarily suspend most of its operations across Sudan, the child rights organisation said, putting food, clean water, and other lifesaving aid out of reach for thousands in a country where 15.8 million people – one third of the population – are in need of humanitarian assistance[i].
The aid group said it is particularly struggling to deliver its medical services in health facilities across North Darfur due to access and looting concerns, but is operating as much as possible where it is safe to do so.
Fighting across Sudan has reportedly killed nearly 100 civilians over the past three days[ii], with hundreds more injured. It is not yet known if children are among the casualties.
Children and communities sheltering from the violence have now gone for three days without food or clean water and the theft of medical aid will further deprive children of vital supplies.
The suspension of aid delivery is putting children’s lives at risk in a country where some 12 million people – a quarter of the population – are already living with acute hunger[iii], Save the Children said.
Arshad Malik, Country Director of Save the Children in Sudan, called on all parties to protect humanitarian infrastructure and supplies as this would only make it harder to provide assistance to families in most need.
He said: “For the past three days, people across Sudan have been gripped by fear, not knowing if it is safe to leave their homes, and are now having to make the choice between facing that fear and starving to death.
“This is a country in which a third of the population already needs humanitarian aid, and a quarter are living with acute hunger. About half a million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition[iv]. It is absolutely critical for the survival of children and families that we see an end to this fighting so that lifesaving aid can be delivered.
“The safety and well-being of everyone in Sudan, especially the most vulnerable children, is our priority and a strong, well-equipped humanitarian assistance operation and safe access for humanitarian workers is critical.
“In the meantime we implore the international community to follow legal obligations to take all necessary precautions to protect civilians and civilian objects, including schools and hospitals, which are protected under International Humanitarian Law.”
Save the Children has worked in Sudan since 1983 to provide humanitarian relief to people affected by the drought in western Sudan. Since then, Save the Children continued programming for children and families affected by conflict, displacement, extreme poverty, hunger and a lack of basic services. Many of the children and families we serve are among the most vulnerable and hardest to reach.
In 2022, Save the Children directly reached 2.1 million people, with 1.5 million of them children, with programming focused on child protection, access to quality education, health and nutrition support and responding to emergencies.
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[ii] According to the Sudanese doctors’ union