In South Sudan, a relentless and seemingly unending war has raged on for six agonizing months. The consequences have been nothing short of catastrophic, particularly for the most vulnerable among us – the children. Shockingly, over 1,200 innocent children have lost their lives in Sudan’s refugee camps, victims of both suspected measles and the haunting spectre of malnutrition. Even more distressing, countless more, including newborns, teeter on the precipice of death as we approach the year’s end. These grim statistics were revealed by United Nations (U.N.) agencies in a startling announcement on Tuesday.
The conflict, which has persisted for over five months, pits Sudan’s military forces against the formidable paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces. This prolonged battle has left the nation’s healthcare system in shambles, besieged by direct attacks from warring factions and crippled by acute shortages of personnel and essential medications. Dr. Allen Maina, the chief of public health at the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), somberly reported that since May, more than 1,200 children, hailing from Ethiopia and South Sudan and all under the tender age of five, have met untimely demises in nine refugee camps nestled in White Nile state, home to one of Sudan’s largest refugee populations.
Tragically, the outlook remains bleak as strained resources threaten to push these harrowing numbers even higher. Vaccination efforts are struggling to keep pace, further exacerbating the looming threat of epidemics. In addition to this grim reality, another dire picture emerges: the nation grapples with some 3,100 suspected measles cases, 500 cholera cases, and concurrent outbreaks of dengue and malaria. The situation is dire, to say the least.
Adding to the distressing narrative, the World Health Organisation (WHO) divulged that Sudan’s healthcare infrastructure has borne the brunt of this senseless war. Shockingly, there have been 56 confirmed attacks on healthcare facilities since the onset of hostilities. A staggering 70% to 80% of hospitals in conflict-ravaged regions now lie in ruins, a sobering testament to the toll this war has exacted.
UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, voiced grave concerns for the fate of countless newborns expected to enter the world in this tumultuous period. The agency’s spokesperson, James Elder, lamented that the lack of skilled delivery care in a country scarred by war and plagued by a dearth of medical supplies is pushing these innocent lives to the brink of peril.
To compound this humanitarian crisis, Sudan struggles to meet the needs of its malnourished children. Each month, an astonishing 55,000 children require treatment for severe malnutrition, yet the infrastructure to provide this critical care is woefully inadequate. In the capital, Khartoum, less than 2% of nutrition centers are functional, while in West Darfur, only one in ten operates effectively.
As we witness this relentless war persist with no end in sight, the toll it exacts on the South Sudanese population becomes increasingly unbearable. It is a stark reminder that war is never a solution, for it is the innocent citizens who bear the devastating consequences. In the words of a poignant African proverb, “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.
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Eriki Joan Ugunushe is a dedicated news writer and an aspiring entertainment and media lawyer. Currently in her penultimate year pursuing a degree in law at the University of Ibadan, she combines her legal acumen with a passion for writing to craft compelling news stories.Eriki's commitment to effective communication shines through her participation in the Jobberman soft skills training, where she honed her abilities to overcome communication barriers, embrace the email culture, and provide and receive constructive feedback. She has also nurtured her creativity skills, understanding how creativity fosters critical thinking—a valuable asset in both writing and law.