UNICEF warns of catastrophic loss of lives in Sudan as famine looms

By Thomson Reuters Mar 15, 2024 | 6:53 AM

GENEVA (Reuters) – The U.N. children’s agency warned on Friday of a potential catastrophic loss of lives in Sudan as the civil war worsens hunger and called for a massive mobilisation of resources.

Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has been fighting Sudan’s army for control of the country in a war that has killed thousands, displaced millions of people inside and outside the country and sparked warnings of famine.

“The brutal war in Sudan is pushing the country towards a famine and unless there is sufficient political will, attention and resources put towards the response now, we are looking at a potential catastrophic loss of lives,” Jill Lawler, chief of field operations and emergency for UNICEF in Sudan, said at a U.N. briefing in Geneva.

She was part of the first U.N. mission back to the capital Khartoum since fighting between the army and the RSF began there in April 2023. The 12-person team found malnourished children living in pitch black hospitals because their generators had failed, she said.

A three-month-old baby was extremely sick because the mother, who could not afford milk, had substituted goat milk leading to diarrhoea. “Hunger is pervasive – it is the number one concern people expressed,” said Lawler.

In another facility, up to three patients were sharing beds.

The agency has previously warned that up to 3.7 million children are projected to be acutely malnourished this year in Sudan, including 730,000 who need lifesaving treatment.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Alex Richardson)