20 December 2023 - Sudan

SUDAN: Humanitarian response crippled as Wad Madani – an aid hub and home to 700,000 people – is overtaken

Press release on Sudan Save the Children

Khartoum, 20 December – Some 350,000 children are under direct risk of being killed, injured or displaced in the town of Wad Madani in Sudan, as fighting moved through the state of Al-Jazira this week, Save the Children said.

The population of Wad Madani had already grown to 700,000 people, according to the UN, including 500,000 who had only recently arrived after being displaced by violence elsewhere in the country. The town had also served as a hub for humanitarian operations since fighting broke out in April this year, including warehousing of large stocks of supplies dedicated to response in the state.

Save the Children had been running an integrated emergency response in the state, including the provision of maternal health services, supplementary food for malnourished children, psychological and social support, and a cholera treatment centre, reaching around 60,000 people. Since the violence escalated, these services had to be suspended.

While active combat settled overnight, the death toll in Wad Madani had already risen to 300, including the deaths of three health professionals, according to the Sudan Medical Syndicate, a doctor’s organisation. Doctors have described the health situation in Madani as catastrophic, with injured people unable to reach medical care due to hospital closures and ongoing violence. 

Families have told Save the Children they are terrified what the recent developments in Wad Madani could mean for their children’s safety. Girls and women in particular fear sexual violence or abduction, which has been a recurrent threat in the Sudan crisis.

Dr Arif Noor, Country Director for Save the Children in Sudan, said:

“It’s chaos and carnage in Sudan. Some 350,00 children in Wad Madani – many of already fled bombs and bullets and came to the town with their families for safety – have found their refuge become a new centre of insecurity. Children are terrified of being abducted, raped, and recruited into armed groups. They are seeing things no child should ever see.

“Across Al-Jazira state, the news we are hearing from communities and colleagues is distressing: Entire families supporting their newborns and oldest relatives to escape on foot; people being robbed and attacked; women and girls fearing sexual violence as a tool of war. It is terrifying to witness civilians who managed to flee from fighting in other areas being displaced for another time and to see children’s whole lives uprooted again.

“Eight months after the escalation of conflict, it is getting harder and harder to find a safe place in Sudan. It’s an international crisis and needs urgent international attention and support to find a peaceful resolution and provide aid to those who desperately need it.”

Save the Children has worked in Sudan since 1983 and is providing life-saving aid and children protection services together with national and international partners. Since the conflict broke out, Save the Children has reached 327,844 people, including more than 160,000 children, and is operating medical and nutrition centres to provide food and other items for displaced families.


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Daphnee Cook, Daphnee.Cook@savethechildren.org;

Emily Wight, Emily.Wight@savethechildren.org;

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