Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
- Sudan is faced with a catastrophic humanitarian crisis which is projected to deteriorate further if the fighting does not immediately stop, pushing the already vulnerable into a further state of desperation, and threatening millions of children's lives.
- The political crisis in Sudan has culminated in a full-blown armed conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which started on 15 April 2023. Millions are caught in the crossfire, with almost no access to basic services. Some 24.7 million individuals now require humanitarian aid, including 13.6 million children.
- The fighting has destroyed much of Khartoum and various settings in Darfur, including healthcare facilities, water infrastructure, and schools. The state function is jeopardized, and across the country, the financial system, transportation, and communication networks are disrupted, and the cost-of-living increasing. The insecurity and looting of humanitarian partners' assets and supplies have challenged humanitarian access and response capacity.
- UNICEF needs US$837.6 million to continue providing life-saving assistance in health, nutrition, WASH, child protection, learning, and psychosocial support to people affected by the crisis, while building resilience and maintaining critical services for the most vulnerable already in need before the conflict.
Key planned results for 2023
3.2 million children and women accessing primary healthcare
621,600 children with severe wasting admitted for treatment
349,200 children/caregivers accessing community-based mental health and psychosocial support
4 million people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
Heavy fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) erupted on 15 April 2023, displacing over 1 million people within Sudan, and an additional 319,000 people to neighbouring countries. 196 children were killed and 1,865 children were injured between 15 April and 5 May. Furthermore, millions of the most vulnerable children and families are caught in the crossfire with no or limited access to essential services including water, food, healthcare, and safety. The situation is projected to further deteriorate, with increased humanitarian needs in health, nutrition, WASH, and protection, severely worsening the already dire humanitarian situation. Now a staggering 24.7 million people, 13.6 million of whom are children, need humanitarian assistance.
The consequences for children are dire. Prior to this conflict, one in every eighteen children did not reach their fifth birthday. The number of children who did not receive a single dose of life-saving vaccines doubled between 2019 and 2021. Recurrent disease outbreaks, including measles and malaria, continue to affect large numbers of children. Sudan has one of the highest prevalence rates of malnutrition among children in the world. More than 3 million children are wasted, of whom 621,600 are severely wasted and at high risk of death. 80 percent of localities face a critical level of water scarcity and are vulnerable to natural hazards, particularly flooding. Nearly 7 million school-age children are out of school, and the remaining 12 million struggle to learn. Seven out of ten students cannot read and understand a simple sentence. With over 200 hotspot areas with recurring conflicts and violence, children are exposed to increased risks from negative coping mechanisms including child marriage, school dropout, and association with armed groups, among others.
The ongoing fighting has caused extensive damage to civilian infrastructure, resulting in water shortages, blackouts, communication outages, school closures, and the collapse of health systems in conflict areas. The conflict has had a severe psychosocial impact on children and families, including those who are being uprooted once again, including internally displaced people and refugees who had fled to safer places in Sudan. The insecurity and looting directed towards humanitarian organizations have severely compromised aid organizations’ operational capacity, including health and nutrition services provision and maintenance and repairs of WASH infrastructures. An estimated 14.9 million people including 8.2 million children need urgent water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions, and face a greater risk of WASH-related diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera due to lack of safe water and adequate sanitation. 4.6 million people, including 2.5 million children, require nutrition assistance, while 11 million people are in need of health services. Also, an estimated 8.6 school-age children need learning and protection support, and 4.3 million children face protection risks
To ensure timely and high-quality responses, UNICEF's humanitarian approach is well aligned with inter-agency, sectoral, and government priorities. UNICEF leads the Nutrition and WASH sectors, the Child Protection Area of Responsibility, and the Education Sector, and also plays a key role in the Health Sector, the Gender-Based Violence Sub-sector, and the Refugee Consultation Forum. Sector coordination will be strengthened with additional staffing, especially to support sub-national level coordination.
UNICEF is responsible for the nutrition sector supply pipeline for the treatment of severe wasting, and a substantial portion of health, WASH, learning and psychosocial support, and child protection supplies for emergency response. With deteriorating security, the disruption of the transportation network, banking, customs clearance, and cash availability, UNICEF's leadership in operations, supply, and logistics is critical, and as such, UNICEF is mobilizing country, regional, and global capacity, and coordinating with other UN agencies.
Given the current and recurring and chronic emergencies such as floods and epidemics, UNICEF's priority is to scale up life-saving interventions for children and families affected by the conflict, to sustain critical services for those already in need, and to ensure disaster prevention, preparedness, and response, including building capacity and resilient systems, and stockpiling. UNICEF will enhance humanitarian-development programming linkages, incorporating peace-building and social cohesion across interventions, ensuring life-saving interventions before, during, and after a crisis.
UNICEF will scale up life-saving interventions, including integrated nutrition services for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of child wasting, and will also improve access to health care, immunizations, and WASH services. UNICEF will ensure the well-being of children affected by conflicts and crises through child-friendly protective environments and protection responses. Equally crucial is providing safe spaces for the most vulnerable children and assisting them in remaining in school or through alternate physical or digital learning programmes as appropriate.
In keeping with the Grand Bargain pledges, UNICEF continues to work with local and national entities, including line ministries and national NGOs, strengthening systems, local capacities, and community-based interventions, particularly in conflict and hard-to-reach areas, while incorporating risk-informed and conflict-sensitive programming to ensure access to essential services. UNICEF works with women and girls-led groups to respond to and prevent violence, abuse, and exploitation. While insecurity and looting curtailed partners' capacities in some areas, partnerships with national partners, and investments in their capacities, enabled UNICEF to response in conflict-affected areas from the onset, including in Khartoum and in Darfur, while maintaining critical services to pre-existing vulnerable children and families. Given the deepening economic crisis and collapsing essential social services, UNICEF will increase cash-based programming to meet families' survival needs, preventing them from using negative coping mechanisms, and supporting local economic recovery.
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting children in Sudan; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.