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KHARTOUM, 10 April 2024 - More than 10 million children in Sudan have been in an active warzone, close to gunfire, shelling and other deadly violence over the past year of war, said Save the Children.

Analysis by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) on behalf of Save the Children found that half the country’s children  are currently or have been within five kilometers of the frontlines of the conflict within the last 12 months, leaving them exposed to shooting, airstrikes and other hazards [1]. This is a sharp increase on the 6.6 million children exposed to violence last April, the first month of the fighting,  and shows how the conflict has continued to increase in scale and scope across the country.

Nearly 4 million children are malnourished and education has ground to a halt.

Leaders meeting in Paris next week to discuss the crisis in Sudan must do all in their power to improve humanitarian access, protect children and stave off famine, said Save the Children, as fierce fighting continues to turn the lives of millions of children upside down.  The agency said leaders must also urgently increase funding for the international humanitarian response, which currently has only 5% of the money required.

The new joint analysis shows that since fighting erupted in Khartoum on 15 April 2023, the risks faced by more than 10 million children have also included battles, bombings, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and mortar and missile  blasts, with many direct attacks on civilians. The children will have witnessed or suffered devastating injury, death, displacement, psychological harm and the destruction of their homes and communities.

According to ACLED’s analysis, around 5 million children have repeatedly been in the vicinity of such violence in the last year.

Jouman*, 16, fled Sudan with her family in November and now lives in Cairo, where she studies at a school for Sudanese refugees that Save the Children supports with learning resources and materials.

The fighting was really tough. We never imagined that we would flee Sudan,” says Jouman.*

In Cairo, she enjoys playing football with her best friend at school, Hanaa*, 15 who was also forced to flee Sudan. Jouman hopes eventually to return to Sudan where she wants to become a doctor.

I had good days in Sudan. I used to go to school, then back home and spend time with the family and [when I was with my friend], we’d have fun and study,” she says.

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

“These findings show how dangerously close to death and injury so many children in Sudan have been over the past year of war. Children in Sudan have suffered unimaginably – they have seen killings, massacres, bullet-littered streets, dead bodies and shelled homes while they live with the all-too-real fear that they themselves could be killed, injured, recruited to fight or subjected to sexual violence. Although the UN Security Council recently called for a ceasefire, fighting continues, with millions of children caught in the crossfire.

“The situation has reached boiling point. Millions more children do not have access to adequate food, 3.8 million are malnourished and thousands of others risk death from disease as the country’s health system has all but collapsed. Not a single child has been able to go to school over the past year. No child should have to go through what those in Sudan have been experiencing.

“Next week, when global and regional leaders come together in Paris, they must urgently prioritise both political and financial solutions to this crisis. They must do everything in their power to find solutions to end the fighting and work directly with the parties to the conflict to ensure they are adhering to their obligations under international law. They also need to commit to increasing funding to the humanitarian response plan, which a quarter of the way into this year remains woefully 5% funded. There has been limited to no collective global effort to protect children in Sudan. These children deserve better – and this is the opportunity to give them a chance to survive.”

Clionadh Raleigh, President and Chief Executive Officer of ACLED said:

“Over 10 million children have been repeatedly exposed to deadly violence across Sudan since hostilities began in April 2023. This staggering figure is the highest IS THIS RATE OR NUMBER? rate number of children exposed in the world and is equivalent to the total population of children in Germany. The future of Sudanese children is being callously sacrificed within a power contest that disregards the suffering and consequences endured by the Sudanese people. A year into the conflict, this trajectory ensures that more children, families and communities will be harmed and killed in the months to come.”

The number of children exposed to the deadly conflict has increased as fighting has spread to more parts of the country including Al-Jazirah, which was once Sudan's breadbasket.

The intensity of the conflict has led to the displacement of four million children - the highest number in the world [4], while 230,000 children and new mothers are likely to die from hunger without critical action. Over 15,200 people, likely a large underestimate, including children, have been killed, while thousands more have been injured. [5]

So far, the UN’s humanitarian response plan is just 5% funded, with an over $2.5bn shortfall [6].

Save the Children has worked in Sudan since 1983. In 2023, Save the Children directly reached 2.1 million people, 1.5 million of them children, with programming focused on child protection, access to quality education, health and nutrition support and responding to emergencies.

Notes to editors:

[1] ACLED and WorldPop have developed a metric that provides information on the demographic and geographic characteristics of populations affected by conflict. The conflict exposure metric integrates event-based conflict data from ACLED with population size estimates from WorldPop, to estimate the civilian impact by proximity to an event. https://acleddata.com/conflict-exposure/

[2] The data analysis in this press release for children exposed to conflict in Sudan differs from overall population exposure counts as per the online ACLED conflict exposure calculator due to focus on children and application of a different buffer zone for “exposed” by ACLED.

z ACLED estimates around two thirds of violent events in the last year have occurred in cities and towns of over 100,000 people and that 95% of violent events have occurred in 56% of all locations that have experienced violence suggesting multiple exposure for these people.

[4] unicef.org/sudan/reports/unicef-sudan-humanitarian-situation-report-january-2024

[5] ACLED figures cited by the UN

[6] UN OCHA Financial Tracking Service, https://fts.unocha.org/countries/212/summary/2024

*Name changed to protect identity


For further enquiries please contact: media@savethechildren.org.uk / +44(0)7831 650409