UNICEF Director of Emergency Operations, Lucia Elmi’s remarks on Sudan at the Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

As delivered

27 June 2024
طفل يحمل عبوة غذاء علاجي جاهز الاستعمال

NEW YORK, 27 June 2024 – "The widespread food insecurity that my colleagues at FAO and WFP have described has a particularly devastating effect on, and creates specific and distinctly chilling risks for Sudan’s children - boys and girls.

"Our projections indicate that 3.7 million children will suffer from acute malnutrition this year, with over 730,000 children facing severe acute malnutrition – and an imminent risk of death without access to treatment —the highest numbers in a decade. 

"It is important to understand just how dangerous severe acute malnutrition is. It is life-threatening, making children up to 11 times more likely to die than their well-nourished peers. Even when children survive malnutrition, the effects on their physical and cognitive development can be lifelong and irreversible. 

"However, we also know how to treat these children and save their lives, and in response to the situation, UNICEF, together with partners is intensifying its efforts to prevent further deterioration. We have expanded our nutrition-focused partnerships to 152 localities, ensuring an operational presence in 93 priority areas.

"Through integrated nutrition interventions in more than 1,700 health facilities and 60 mobile teams, we have admitted more than 100,000 severely malnourished children this year alone. Additionally, we established 170 new nutrition sites and distributed Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) across 18 states of Sudan, enough to treat 180,000 children.

"Yet as today’s snapshot makes clear, despite these efforts, significant challenges remain, especially for children.

"The war has severely impacted the delivery of humanitarian supplies. Violence and bureaucratic hurdles impede access to conflict-affected areas, leaving countless women and children without vital nutritional support. 

"As we face an ever-increasing risk of conflict-induced famine, the need for a comprehensive and well-funded response is critical. UNICEF and UN partners currently face significant funding gaps. For UNICEF alone, that is $120 million to fully implement our famine prevention plan. We count on a renewed and significant scaled-up support from donors, and, crucially, for pledges already made to come through without delay. 

"However, funding only gets us so far. It is crucial that all parties to the conflict – and indeed all actors – facilitate immediate, unimpeded, and consistent humanitarian access, through all possible crossline and cross-border routes so that children and their communities can receive the nutrition, water, medical care, and shelter they desperately need. 

"It is important to note that a lack of access, combined with the disruption of telecommunications networks- also affects our ability to effectively monitor the situation. It is especially important that we are able to implement food security data collection and nutrition data in El Fasher, Khartoum, and other inaccessible hotspots at risk of famine, along with scaling up nutrition and mortality surveys and screenings in localities with populations in IPC Phase 5, and systematically record information for children under five, so that we are able to better reach them.

"Most importantly, children need peace – an immediate de-escalation of the situation in El Fasher and a nationwide ceasefire. Without peace, their chances of survival diminish, and the prospect for a brighter future remains a distant dream.

"It is therefore vital that we all come together, as a global community, to address this crisis with the urgency and commitment it demands. The window to avert the worst is rapidly closing, and the lives of Sudan’s children depend on our collective action."


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