Save the Children is deeply concerned for the wellbeing of children in the Darfur region of Sudan after almost 50 people were killed and at least 2,000 adults and children displaced in violence over the weekend. This incident is the most recent in a violence outbreak that has killed approximately 100 people in the region over the past three weeks.
In the early hours of 5th December, tensions escalated in Kereneik market in Darfur, with violence rapidly spreading to the nearby IDP camps and villages. People were brutally attacked and their houses burned, with survivors escaping with horrific injuries. The violence comes following a year of rising clashes amongst communities in Darfur as a result of multiple factors such as poverty, political instability, arms proliferation, and a severe and prolonged economic crisis. Between the month of January and July this year, intercommunal conflict in Geneina town in West Darfur killed at least 163 people and left 217 others injured. It also led to the displacement of 105,000 people, including approximately 31,500 children. In Jebel Moon in West Darfur, approximately 9,600 people were displaced following the October clashes.
Save the Children is deeply concerned that this situation might continue to worsen. The organization calls on the joint effort of all stakeholders in protecting children and civilians so as to shut the security gap that came as a result of the December 2020 withdrawal of the UNAMID peace-keeping mission, and was further worsened by the slow and shattered execution of the Juba Peace Agreement.
Arshad Malik, Save the Children’s Sudan Country Director, said that the organization is deeply concerned about this increase in violence and the impact it has on children. Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety, while others have lost their loved ones in the most violent way. Children are forced to witness horrors they should never have to see or go through. Already residing in displacement camps, some children have been forced to flee these camps to new and uncertain destinations. This situation is unacceptable for any child.
As a result of this violence, children in Darfur have the most to lose since exposure to violence can leave them suffering from long-lasting psychological trauma and further exposure to extreme physical risks. After displacement, these children have to experience a high risk of child labor, recruitment into armed forces, and early marriages. This is frustrating since education and protection are the rights of all children to enjoy.
Across Sudan, this year has seen a dramatic rise in internal displacements, with at least 430,000 people displaced between January and September 2021, compared to 100,000 in 2020. Save the Children urges all parties to the violence in Sudan to prioritize protecting vulnerable groups, such as children and women. The government of Sudan must make sure civilians are protected at all times. Early response by the government and donors can help avoid long-term displacement, exploitation of children, and lack of education. Subscribe to our daily newsletter for updates on this and more in the humanitarian sector.