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Children in Sudan are in the middle of a perfect storm of crises - UNICEF Geneva Palais briefing

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This is a summary of what was said by UNICEF Representative, Mandeep O’Brien, to whom quoted text may be attributed - at a special press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

GENEVA/KHARTOUM, 23 September 2022 – “In this briefing, my aim is to underscore the enormity of challenges the children of Sudan face. And to share some sense of what action is urgently required. Children are caught in a perfect storm of crises on top of crises.

“More than one out of every three of Sudan’s children are in need of humanitarian assistance. This staggering statistic translates to almost 8 million girls and boys. This is an increase of 2.7 million or 35 per cent since 2020.

“Much of this is on the back of growing food insecurity, a problem that has intensified persistent malnutrition, water, health, and education crises for children across Sudan.

“Three million children under 5 years of age in Sudan are acutely malnourished, of which 650,000 suffer from severe acute malnutrition. Approximately half of them will die without treatment.

“Routine immunization rates in Sudan are declining. Between 2019 and 2021 the number of children who have not received a single dose of lifesaving vaccines doubled.

Close to 40 per cent of the population don’t have access to basic drinking water supply. Seventy per cent of the population don’t have access to basic sanitation.

“Basic healthcare, water, hygiene and sanitation are vital to saving child lives. It is essential if a country is to fight infectious diseases in early childhood and interrupt the vicious cycle between malnutrition and disease outbreaks.

“Finally, seven million children are out of school in Sudan. Seventy per cent of 10-year-olds are unable to read and understand a simple sentence.

“Sudan’s children require a firm foundation of quality learning that is both relevant to their lives and equips them with the skills needed for the labour market of the 21st century.

“With all this in mind, consider these last statistics: Over the past year, Sudan’s health budget has dropped from 9 per cent to 3 per cent of total public expenditure, and the education budget has dropped from 12.5 per cent to 1 per cent.

“Of course, the children of Sudan are not responsible for the deteriorating health and education systems. But they are the first victims to bear the brunt.

“What then needs to be done?

“One, we call upon the Sudanese authorities to urgently increase public expenditures towards the delivery of lifesaving and life-sustaining social services for children and communities.

“Two, we call upon the international community to stand in solidarity with the children of Sudan and to increase humanitarian and resilience funding for the country.

“With four months left in 2022, humanitarian partners have received just 34 per cent of the funding we need, as per the Humanitarian Response Plan, with some sectors severely underfunded with only 13 per cent of the US$102 million Education in Emergencies appeal covered.

“I know I have shared some deeply troubling data today, but in a final sentence:

What is already a crisis for children in Sudan will become a catastrophe if action is not taken.

“Thank you.”

Media contacts Joe English UNICEF New York Tel: +1 917 893 0692 Email:

James Elder UNICEF Geneva Tel: +254 71558 1222 Email: