June 15, 2024

According to the British charity Save the Children, some 30,000 children will be born in war-torn Sudan over the next three months without access to proper medical care, such as through doctors, hospitals and medicines. The group says the lack of basic health care endangers both mothers and unborn children, heightening the risk of long-term and deadly complications.

That’s out of a total of some 45,000 children that are expected to be born in Sudan in the next quarter amid conflict that has destroyed many health facilities in the country.

The head of child protection at Save the Children International in Sudan, Osman Adam Abdelkarim, told VOA that the recent escalation of violence in many parts of Sudan has made his organization fear for pregnant women and millions of others.

He said that in the town of Wad Madani, in Al Jazirah state, the medical system has collapsed.

“There are no health facilities going to be operational,” he said. “There were two doctors killed in the last three days, and all of the medical staff evacuated, and left the place. And also, the supply chain to reach out[lying] areas, it was very challenging. It’s difficult to move, and that’s affecting the whole supply chain system for delivering drugs and also to make the medical staff available.”

The recent escalation of the conflict has seen more than 25,000 pregnant women on the move from violence, and Save the Children warns the women likely will be cut off from the health facilities and the right nutrition needed to support their babies.

Health experts say the first four weeks of a child’s life carry the highest risk of death and are the most dangerous for the mother. Most of the deaths are caused by birth asphyxia, premature birth, or infections.

Hala al-Karib, regional director of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa, says there are not enough facilities in Sudan right now to help women and children.

“We are going to see a large number of women losing their lives,” she said. “We are going to see a lot of children losing their lives because of the fact that, you know, the infrastructure that’s typically established in wartime, you know, has not been done. And that in itself is an issue. The other issue… [is] the total failures of the mediation efforts that’s controlled by the Americans, it’s controlled by the Saudis,…both of them, they have not been successful to create safe zones for civilians.”

Sudan descended into armed conflict in April after the leader of the Sudanese Armed Forces, General Abdel Fatah al-Burhan, and the leader of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, disagreed on how to move the country from military rule to a civilian-led government.

More than 12,000 people have been killed since April, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

The conflict has displaced more than 4.3 million people and 1.1 million have fled to neighboring countries.

Al-Karib said Sudanese civilians need safe camps.

“All medical services and medical facilities totally collapsed at this point in time,” she said. “Now, since the war erupted in April, you know, there have been frequent calls to the international community to establish IDP camps, safe IDP camps for civilians to exist with services, and so on. That never happened. The international community, they never fulfilled their obligations towards Sudan. The crisis in Sudan has been totally abandoned and sidelined.”

The war has made it difficult for aid agencies to reach millions of people in need of food, water, and medicine due to the warring parties’ failure to allow humanitarian workers to safely pass through dangerous areas.

Save the Children is calling on the international community to assist the millions of Sudanese affected by the conflict and to remember their children and their mothers during these difficult times.

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