Children in Sudan
An overview of the situation of children in Sudan
Children in Sudan
Sudan is the third largest country in Africa, with a population of over 41 million. Of those, more than half (approximately 21 million) are children, of which 6.5 million are children under the age of five.
For 70 years, since 1952, UNICEF has championed the promotion and protection of child rights in Sudan, registering enormous results and changing lives especially for the most vulnerable children.
Through the systems strengthening approach, UNICEF is working with partners to ensure more children are reached with lifesaving health services including immunization; more children are enrolling and attending school and fewer children and young people affected by violence and abuse.
With increased challenges – from COVID-19 to climate change and political instability – UNICEF strives to reach at-risk children with lifesaving assistance to help them survive and thrive.
Despite the progress made for children over the years, several children in Sudan remains one of the harshest places in the world to be a child.
- Nearly 7 million school-age children are out of school (one in three girls and one in four boys), and the remaining 12 million in school struggle to learn due to insufficient learning spaces and supplies, teachers, and lack of other support, including for those with disabilities. Of those in school, 7 out of 10 cannot read and understand a simple sentence.
- Sudan has one of the highest rates of malnutrition among children in the world. More than 3 million children are acutely malnourished, of whom over 610,000 are severely wasted - more than half of whom will die without treatment. This number is expected to increase to 650,000 in mid-2023 with the impact of annual dry spells and rising food prices.
- 78,000 children under 5 years of age are dying every year from preventable causes, such as malaria.
- Approximately 23 million children in Sudan are exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation.
- 31 per cent of girls aged 0-14 years have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
- 38 per cent of girls aged 15-18 years are married before the age of 18.
- Children living and working in the street and migrant children face serious challenges in accessing basic services and rights.
- In addition, 11.5 million people, almost one third of the population, are in need of urgent water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions. Out of 189 localities in Sudan, 151 face water scarcity that is at the crisis to critical level, and paradoxically these localities are also highly susceptible to natural hazards, especially flooding. Such WASH-related diseases like diarrhea and cholera remain a high risk due to lack of safe water and adequate sanitation.
- Sudan continues to face extremely complex humanitarian crises, which have left 15.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 8.5 million children.
- A staggering 3.7 million people remain internally displaced and around 1 million refugees are living in Sudan.
- Recurrent disease outbreaks, including measles and malaria, continue to affect large numbers of children, and the routine immunization rate has rapidly fallen with one in six children completely unprotected. Between 2019 and 2021, twice as many children had not received a single dose of life-saving vaccine, putting millions of children’s lives at risk.
- More than 200 locations in Sudan experience recurrent conflicts and violence. Conflict and insecurity combined with the economic crisis are making children more vulnerable due to negative coping mechanisms that include child marriage, school dropout, reduced food intake and increased forced recruitment and association with armed groups.