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Unicef reports children starving in eastern Sudan

November 17 - 2015 KHARTOUM
A Unicef Sudan worker measures the upper-arm circumference of a child: a measurement in the red zone means that the child is acutely malnourished (Unicef Sudan)
A Unicef Sudan worker measures the upper-arm circumference of a child: a measurement in the red zone means that the child is acutely malnourished (Unicef Sudan)

The UN Children’s Fund stressed the high mortality rate among children in Sudan, in particular children under a year, because of malnutrition and childhood diseases. Unicef plans to open a centre in eastern Sudan, stating that malnutrition there is worse than in the Darfur region.

“Some areas are still suffering from children malnutrition despite the progress made in reducing the death rates of children below five years old,” the deputy executive director of Unicef, Omar Abdi, addressed a news conference in Khartoum on Sunday, at the conclusion of his visit to Sudan.

He stated that the mortality rate in the region was reduced from 83 percent to 68 percent, together with an increase of the number of children enrolled in schools and those who have access to water. Abdi pointed out that respiratory diseases, malaria and diarrhea are causing the death of many children.

He said that the “extensive spread of measles” is a result of the low immunisation coverage, and the increase of malnutrition, weight loss, and stunting diseases.

Abdi discussed the work of Unicef in Sudan with several officials including the First Vice-President Bakri Hassan Saleh. He added that the budget allotted for Sudan amounts to $130 million, saying it only covers 60 percent of the organisation’s actual needs, and urged partners to continue their support for Unicef programs in Sudan.

'The malnutrition in eastern Sudan is worse than in Darfur.'

Sudan Tribune reports that the director of the international cooperation department at Sudan’s Foreign Ministry, Sirag Eldin Hamid, asked Unicef to help lift the unilateral economic sanctions imposed on Sudan in order to allow the implementation of programs pertaining to children and education. He said that the visit of the deputy executive director to Sudan has led to “great hopes”.

The representative of Unicef in Sudan, Geert Cappelaere, said that the malnutrition in eastern Sudan is worse than in Darfur, noting that Unicef would open an office in eastern Sudan to strengthen its presence there. “We would launch a call to provide a budget to address malnutrition issue particularly as the budget allotted to Sudan is limited,” he said.

Cappelaere said that 7 percent of the South Sudanese refugees in Sudan are children, pointing to high mortality rate among them because of malnutrition and lack of vaccination.

One million children in Sudan under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in August. Some 550,000 among them are severely malnourished and at risk of dying. Another two million are stunted owing to chronic malnutrition.

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