Tribal violence cuts off 14,000 Darfur children from life-saving health services

by Muizat Hameed
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A spike in tribal violence in western Darfur in Sudan has cut off more than 14,000 children from life-saving health services, as Save the Children was forced to close two health facilities and its field office in Masterei.

The health facilities were the only two centres which provided health and nutrition services for children in the area.

Earlier this week in Masterei, sixty people were reportedly killed in a conflict between communities, including five children. Nine more children were wounded.

This followed an earlier attack by an armed group on July 17th, which also affected a Save the Children sub office in Elgeniena.

For the safety of its staff, Save the Children had to close the sub office. A week later, the health facilities were temporarily closed.

Arshad Malik, Country Director of Save the Children in Sudan, said, “It is indefensible that children have been killed and wounded in the violence, and our thoughts go out to their families.”

He continued that “We are extremely concerned about the spike of violence in the conflict in Darfur and the closure of the two facilities, which leaves thousands of malnourished children without access to nutrition and health services.”

“The safety of our staff is our utmost concern but if the centres are not reopened soon, children’s lives will be put at further risk.

“With already 1.1 million children facing hunger in Sudan, this conflict can only increase the number of children in need,” he added.

The violence in Darfur has increased over the past few weeks, displacing thousands of families, some of whom crossed the border with Chad. On July 20 alone, the violence affected 4,000 people from El Geneina Town.

Mr Malik added stated that “The people in western Darfur urgently need peace and stability, so they can focus on their livelihoods.

“We urge all parties to the conflict to keep children safe from violence or any atrocities, to ensure that they have access to life saving services such as health and nutrition, and to make sure humanitarian workers can do their job safely and unhindered.

“We are calling on the Sudanese government to investigate the killing and injury of these children and for the perpetrators to be held accountable for these violations.”

Save the Children is working to reach the most vulnerable displaced people and host communities in Kordofan, Darfur and Khartoum.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Save the Children has provided cash grants to 2,000 refugee families in Khartoum, and continued distributing seeds and farming equipment in South Kordofan, and vouchers in Darfur and Kordofan.

Save the Children is also supporting more than 100 nutrition centers in Darfur, Kordofan, Red Sea and Blue Nile States to reduce malnutrition amongst children and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

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