Sudan teetering toward catastrophe, with children increasingly caught in the crossfire – UNICEF

5th May 2023


Sudan teetering toward catastrophe, with children increasingly caught in the crossfire – UNICEF

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power is available for interview

Multimedia materials available here

DUBLIN, 5 May 2023 – The situation in Sudan is teetering toward a humanitarian catastrophe, and children are increasingly caught in the crossfire. UNICEF is currently unable to confirm estimates due to the intensity of the violence but has now received reports that 190 children have been killed and another 1,700 injured in Sudan since conflict erupted almost three weeks ago.

Speaking on the escalating humanitarian crisis in the country, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said, “For the sake of Sudan’s children, the violence must stop. As in any conflict, children are the most vulnerable and every effort must be made to keep them out of harm’s way. UNICEF calls on parties to the conflict to abide by their legal obligations under international humanitarian law and ensure that children are not caught in the line of fire. This includes stopping all attacks on health centres, schools, and water and sanitation systems and other infrastructure on which children rely.”

According to UNICEF, the escalating violence inside Sudan puts millions of children at risk, and the conflict also threatens to worsen humanitarian crises throughout the region, with a recent UN estimate assessing that over 330,000 refugees fleeing Sudan have crossed borders into neighbouring countries since the beginning of the violence.

“Children have been living amid terrifying violence for nearly three weeks, and countless families are now on the move to safety in Sudan and beyond its borders. Humanitarian workers have also been attacked, while humanitarian facilities, vehicles and supplies – including those of UNICEF – have been looted or destroyed,” said Executive Director Russell.

Before the conflict erupted, humanitarian needs across Sudan had reached record levels, with 15.8 million people—about a third of the total population—requiring humanitarian assistance. Over half of Sudan’s population of 42 million people are children and the conflict is threatening to further deteriorate their already fragile health situation. Health services in Khartoum and other parts of the country have been impacted with healthcare facilities attacked, and fighting has compromised the central cold chain, including millions of lifesaving vaccines and vital medication (such as insulin for children). Additionally, the lack of safe drinking water—which is widely reported in conflict-affected areas—is increasing the risk of water-borne diseases.

Under the current conditions, providing essential supplies is a major challenge for humanitarian organisations as safe access to affected populations is greatly hindered. However, given the urgency of the situation, UNICEF and partners are working to sustain existing critical services, with the priorities including the immediate provision of emergency medical equipment and supplies to healthcare facilities, including continuity of lifesaving medical services.

Executive Director Russell said UNICEF is calling for a long-term political solution to the crisis, “These attacks are undermining our capacity to reach children across the country with lifesaving health, nutrition, water, and sanitation services. It is critical that parties to the conflict adhere to international law by ensuring that humanitarian actors can safely operate on the ground to support civilians in need. We call for unlimited, unimpeded, and uninterrupted imports of humanitarian and essential commercial supplies, including food and fuel, by sea, air, and road – no matter who controls these areas.”



Notes to editors:

Multimedia materials available here:


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Danny Smits, UNICEF Ireland, +353 87 1308070,

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