Charity: More than 10 million Sudanese children have been in warzone

Charity: More than 10 million Sudanese children have been in warzone

More than 10 million children in Sudan have been in an active warzone and less than five kilometres away from gunfire, shelling, and other deadly violence over the past year of war, said Save the Children.

Analysis by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project on behalf of the charity found that one in two children in Sudan are currently or have been within five kilometres of the frontlines of the conflict.

This is a 60 per cent increase from the already 6.6 million children exposed to violence in the first month of the fighting, and shows how the conflict has continued to increase in scale and scope across the country.

Many of the children have witnessed or suffered devastating injury, death, displacement, psychological harm and the destruction of their homes and communities.

Sixteen-year-old Jouman* is one of four million Sudanese children estimated to have been displaced internally and across borders since fighting broke out between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Force.

She fled Sudan with her family in November last year and now lives with her mother in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, and studies at a school for refugees supported by Save the Children.

“The fighting was really tough. We never imagined that we would flee Sudan,” she said.

In Cairo, she enjoys playing football with her best friend at school, Hanaa*, who was also forced to flee Sudan.

Jouman hopes to become a doctor “to help people and treat those in need” and dreams of returning to Sudan one day.

Although she has fun studying with her friend, she remembers the good days back at home in Sudan with her family.

“I had my brother and some freedom. But here, I only stay at home. We can only hope for God’s help. There were a lot of challenges when I came to Egypt,” she said.

“I did not believe I would go to school. We need books. We hardly found a home because rent is expensive. We have a lot of needs. We need bedding and things to use [at home]. We do not have much.”

But despite the challenges, she is one of the lucky ones.

Millions of children in Sudan have been unable to go to school over the past year, don’t have adequate food, and thousands are at risk of death from disease.

Peter* has been in Egypt for four years and is in his third year as head teacher at the school which welcomes refugee children from Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, and Kenya.

He says the suffering and displacement the children have experienced is impacting their behaviour.

“Some become violent because of the violence they saw. Others are extremely quiet, while other cannot focus on anything. And some are very sensitive and cry for anything.“

As fierce fighting continues to turn the lives of millions of children upside down, Save the Children says more must be done to protect them

“Children in Sudan have suffered unimaginably,” says Dr Arif Noor, Sudan Country Director for the charity.

“They have seen killings, massacres, bullet-littered streets, dead bodies, and shelled homes while they live with the all-too-real fear that they themselves could be killed, injured, recruited to fight, or subject to sexual violence,” he says.

Noor says no child should have to go through what those in Sudan have been experiencing.

*Not their real names.

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