Home » Almost 230,000 children and new mothers could starve to death in Sudan, experts warn

Almost 230,000 children and new mothers could starve to death in Sudan, experts warn

by Marko Florentino
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Nearly 230,000 children, pregnant women and new mothers in Sudan could die from starvation in the coming months, experts have warned.

The East African nation has been engulfed by war and fighting since April 2023. Since then, more than 10 million people have been forced to flee their homes, making it the world’s largest internal displacement crisis. Hunger, dehydration and disease are all on the rise.

More than 2.9 million Sudanese children are acutely malnourished, with 729,000 under-fives suffering from severe acute malnutrition – the most deadly form of extreme hunger – according to new figures from the Nutrition Cluster, a partnership of organisations including the UN and Save the Children.

Of these, more than 110,000 children are likely to suffer from severe medical complications, including dehydration, hypothermia and hypoglycemia – a condition that requires intensive and specialised hospital care to survive.

In total, about 222,000 severely malnourished children and more than 7,000 new mothers are likely to die in the months ahead if their nutritional and health needs remain unmet, the Nutrition Cluster said.

Dr Arif Noor, Country Director for Save the Children in Sudan, called the grim food insecurity situation in Sudan “one of the worst in the world.”

“No planting last year means no food today. No planting today means no food tomorrow. The cycle of hunger is getting worse and worse with no end in sight – only more misery,” he said.

Nutrition experts at Save the Children have reported seeing many pregnant women skipping meals to provide food for their families, critically restricting the available nutrients to their growing foetuses and causing grave health concerns for them in later life.

The charity said an estimated 1.2 million pregnant and breastfeeding women will suffer from malnutrition this year, leaving them vulnerable to dangerous health complications during and after their pregnancy.

Sudan has been forced to the brink of collapse after 11 months of war, which has cut civilians off from access to aid. Between November and December of last year, the number of areas deemed “hard-to-reach” by the Nutrition Cluster increased by 71 per cent due to intensified fighting.

Restricted movement of food across the country, particularly to rural and remote areas where most of the population live, has pushed over 37 percent of people into “above crisis levels of hunger”.

Dr Noor blamed the intense fighting across the Al-Jazirah state that broke out in December – a region known as the breadbasket of Sudan – for the “unprecedented disruption of food systems”.

In February, the UN appealed for £3.25bn to meet Sudan’s humanitarian needs and support those who have fled to neighbouring countries, amid warnings by the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) that people are starving to death in areas cut off by fighting.

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