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Children fleeing Sudan arriving at borders withdrawn, anxious and scared


JUBA/CAIRO - 11 May 2023 – Children fleeing the violence in Sudan are arriving in South Sudan and Egypt showing signs of acute distress and shock with some withdrawn, others angry and some becoming aggressive, said Save the Children.  

Since fighting started on 15 April, more than 700,000 people have fled their homes in Sudan which was already facing its worst ever humanitarian crisis due to the collision of conflict, natural disasters, disease outbreaks and economic degradation and one third of the population needing assistance. 

Over the past month, more than 150,000 people have crossed into Egypt, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Chad, according to the UN, with reports of long waits at the crossings, limited food, water and sanitation facilities. 

Save the Children teams are providing mental health and psychosocial support as well as essential supplies to families arriving at border points in South Sudan and Egypt, some of whom have spent up to 15 days on perilous and costly journeys to seek safety. 

At Renk on South Sudan’s northeastern border with Sudan, Save the Children is providing food and helping to trace families and reunify children separated from their families. 

Up to 45,000 people are reported to have fled into South Sudan from Sudan, some returnees who had left South Sudan previously to escape conflict. 

Micah Yakani, a Save the Children South Sudan Child and Youth Protection Coordinator, said many children were very stressed when they arrived and warned of an increase in hunger and malnutrition due to food shortages at the crossing point.  

“Children are very stressed. This is seen through unusual behaviour such as fighting each other while some are withdrawn and stay alone. Adolescent children are also manifesting violent behaviours such as anger, desperation, talking aggressively. 

“The hot meals being provided at the transit centres are not enough for everyone and many families are going without food. We’re also seeing sign of trauma among children as most of the families are staying under the hot sun with no shade or shelter. The few shades we have cannot accommodate everyone. 

“Water shortages are leading to violent commotions between women at the transit centre and we fear the situation might get worse as the centre is completely full and many families are sheltering by the road side.”