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Calls to Protect Children in Khartoum, Sudan as Fighting Spreads

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (April 16, 2023)—As fighting spread to residential areas of Khartoum, Sudan on Sunday, Save the Children called on all parties not to target areas where children are living or schools and health centers where they could be sheltering.

With unconfirmed media reports of more than 56 civilian deaths and up to 600 casualties as fighting spread across the city, Khartoum was paralyzed with all airports closed. Schools did not open on Sunday as usual, with families seeking safety off the streets. It is not yet known if any children are among the casualties.

The eruption of fighting comes as Sudan is facing its worst ever humanitarian crisis with conflict, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and economic degradation resulting in 15.8 million people—about a third of the population, and more than half of them children—needing humanitarian support.

Save the Children’s acting Advocacy, Communications, Campaigns, and Media Director, Katharina von Schroeder, was with her 8-year-old son in a school in Khartoum on Saturday morning with nine other parents and 11 children when fighting broke out. They have been unable to leave the school since and slept overnight in the sports hall on gym mats.

“The explosions have not stopped since Saturday morning. We are trying our best to shield the children from the events, but they are starting to worry. In the morning, we heard heavy shelling and explosions nearby and we sheltered for some time in the basement. Afterwards, we found two stray rifle bullets outside,” she said. 

“It is still very early to predict how the situation will evolve, but the conflict will exacerbate an already dire situation in the country. Children in Sudan have already been exposed to the consequences of conflict and climate change for years now, and we are deeply concerned about this uptick in violence.” 

A report by save the Children last year found Sudan was the ninth most dangerous country for children living in conflict.

Save the Children’s Country Director in Sudan, Arshad Malik, said: “While fighting is ongoing, there are international legal obligations to take all necessary precautions to protect civilians and civilian objects, including schools and hospitals, which are protected under International Humanitarian Law.  The use of explosive weapons in populated areas should also be avoided as it risks severe harm to civilians, in particular children."

“We call on all parties to the violence to halt the fighting immediately, before more lives are lost.”

Save the Children has worked in Sudan since 1983 to provide humanitarian relief to people affected by the drought in western Sudan. Since then, Save the Children continued programming for children and families affected by conflict, displacement, extreme poverty, hunger, and a lack of basic services. Many of the children and families we serve are among the most vulnerable and hardest to reach.

In 2022, Save the Children directly reached 2.1 million people, with 1.5 million of them children, with programming focused on child protection, access to quality education, health and nutrition support, and emergency response. 

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we've been advocating for the rights of children worldwide. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming the future we share. Our results, financial statements and charity ratings reaffirm that Save the Children is a charity you can trust. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


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