One year of conflict: Sudan one of the worst places in the world to be a child

16 Apr 2024 by World Vision
One year of conflict: Sudan one of the worst places in the world to be a child

As the conflict in Sudan reaches its one-year milestone, tens of millions of children and women continue to endure the worst violence imaginable.

More than 19 million children are out of school, most for many months, and have been deprived of the psychological safety that comes from attending class[i].

Millions have been displaced by the conflict that started on April 15, 2023, and are suffering extreme food shortages and a lack of health care.

In the midst of civil war, children have suffered sexual violence, ethnic targeting, abduction, recruitment into armed groups, and terrifying assaults by assailants wielding weapons.

According to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, some 24 million children in Sudan are at risk of generational catastrophe[ii].

World Vision Sudan National Director, John Makoni, warns that the situation for children in Sudan is dire.

“Sudan is currently one of the worst places in the world for a child to live, due to the huge numbers of boys and girls affected by the conflict, but also because of the full range of physical and emotional challenges they face.

“Children are literally being starved, abused, and traumatised by what they are experiencing and witnessing. Many, have fled the violence but have been unable to find any real safety.”

Makoni says World Vision is working to alleviate the ordeal faced by children by partnering with UNICEF to run safe spaces for children. These Child Friendly Spaces offer a place for boys and girls to feel protected, cared for, and recover some sense of normalcy in the midst of chaos.

One space is in Abu Ramad, in the Blue Nile region. Children there have been provided with volleyballs, basketballs, board games, art equipment, and skipping ropes. More than 100 girls and boys attend daily.

Mariam, 14, attends three times a week to play with friends. She dreams of being an engineer, and hopes to help construct schools and a hospital in her community.

Makoni said displaced women and girls face significant risks from sexual violence while living in temporary shelters, at border crossings, or while on the move to find safety.

World Vision helps case manage those who have experienced violence, providing mental health services to thousands of women and girls.

The organisation is also providing livelihood skills training to help women earn an income. Soap making, tailoring, and leather crafting are some of the skills they learn.

Mother-of-four, Aisha*, says: “Since joining the centre, I’ve been able to create clothing for my children, saving money and contributing to our household income.”

World Vision says much more needs to be done to help the millions endure a crisis that is largely invisible to the world. Actions include:
  • Ensuring cross-border access from South Sudan and Chad to reach people in need.
  • Funding for humanitarian assistance for the thousands of internally displaced.
  • A commitment from all sides to reopen schools to help protect children from violence and prevent the generational harm done to children who lack education.
Over the past year, World Vision has reached more than 1.3 million people affected by the crisis in Sudan with emergency food; child protection services; health and nutrition treatment; and water, sanitation, and hygiene programmes.

New Zealanders wishing to support those affected by the conflict in Sudan and World Vision’s work can donate here