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SUDAN: More than 50,000 displaced within Kadugli as town nears siege conditions

KHARTOUM, 1 September 2023 – Children and families living in near-siege conditions in  Kadugli in southern Sudan have run out emergency food supplies, with fighting blocking access to several major roads and medical services at a standstill, according to Save the Children staff based in the town.

Fighting escalated on 14 August, forcing over 50,000 people – including at least 30,000 children – to be displaced across the town of Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan Statei. Roadblocks have created a siege-like situation, with food stocks in Kadugli Town fully depleted, and attempts to bring in more supplies failing. 

According to Save the Children staff in Kadugli, many of the displaced families have fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Some of the families had only recently arrived in Kadugli having previously fled Khartoum, only to find themselves on the move for a second time.  Most of the movements in the town are of people fleeing the Hajr Al-Maak neighbourhood and going to the Al-Radaif neighbourhood, with many of the displaced families now sheltering in schools.

While some roads are still open, Save the Children is concerned that the ongoing battle is already preventing essential aid supplies from entering the city. An estimated 160,000 displaced people lived in Kadugli prior to the attacks, with around of 100,000 people already in need of humanitarian assistance even before the conflictii

Dr. Arif Noor, Save the Children’s Country Director in Sudan, said:

“We are deeply concerned for the children and families trapped in Kadugli. This is an evolving situation and our teams are doing all they can to keep services available to children while they themselves seek shelter.

“As fighting escalates, it is only going to become increasingly difficult for families to leave Kadugli, and for humanitarians to reach them. In many ways the town is under siege, as food stocks have totally run out and there is no way to replenish them. Those who remain and are injured will not get the medical treatment they need to survive. There is a very real risk that children will start dying from hunger. These families have already fled their homes once in the last few weeks. This latest fighting means that families once more have to flee, some with nothing in their possession.

“The international community needs to recognise and treat the conflict in Sudan as the large-scale emergency that it is, and act accordingly. This is a major and growing emergency. The international response so far has been woefully short of what is needed. Food, water, shelter, medical supplies, protection support for children – families in Sudan need the absolute basics to survive.”

Save the Children has an established office in Kadugli, but its staff and other humanitarian workers have been advised to restrict their movements due to the unstable situation. Two humanitarian compounds, not belonging to Save the Children, as well as many public buildings, have been hit by stray bullets during the clashes.

Save the Children staff remaining in Kadugli are working around the clock to reach the most vulnerable children impacted by the conflict, providing critical family tracing and reunification services for children separated from their families in the chaos, as well as food for children living on the streets.

The situation in Kadugli and South Kordofan remains extremely volatile, with roads connecting Khartoum to Kordofan and Darfur blocked, limiting the movement of essential humanitarian supplies.

At least 435 children have been reported killed in the conflict across Sudan, and more than 2000 children injured. However, these figures are likely an underestimate, with the true toll expected to be much higher.

Save the Children has worked in Sudan since 1983. In 2022, Save the Children directly reached 2.1 million people, including 1.5 million children, with programming focused on child protection, access to quality education, health and nutrition support and responding to emergencies. 


·       [i] According to a memo received by Save the Children from the Humanitarian Aid Commission in South Kordofan, some 10,000 households have been displaced by the current fighting. In Sudan the IOM uses an estimate for household size as five people (two adults and three children), thus 10,000 households = 50,000 people including 30,000 children, although this is likely a lower estimate.

·       [ii] 2023 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO).