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MEDIA RELEASE: One year of conflict has cast Sudan into a catastrophic humanitarian crisis

Plan International Australia 5 mins read

 

For immediate release: 7am, Monday 15 April, 2024

Press release 

One year of conflict has cast Sudan into a catastrophic humanitarian crisis 

 

One year on since the conflict in Sudan began the country faces a “catastrophic humanitarian crisis”, according to girls’ rights organisation Plan International.

 

The conflict, which began on 15 April last year, has now killed over 13,900 people and left 25 million people in need of humanitarian assistance – 14 million of these are children. Over 8.4 million people have been displaced, of whom 1.7 million have fled to neighbouring countries, this includes refugees who had previously sought safety in Sudan.

 

“A year into this devastating conflict, children in Sudan, especially girls, continue to live through a catastrophic humanitarian crisis every day. They’ve witnessed unimaginable horrors, and many have lost family or friends. Most children have not been able to attend school for nearly a year. Ongoing fighting also means that Sudan could be in famine within a month – we are witnessing malnutrition levels rise at alarming speed’ says Mohammed Qazilbash, Country Director for Plan International Sudan.

 

“This crisis is not isolated to Sudan – our offices in Chad, CAR, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Egypt are responding to the consequences of this conflict. If a political solution to the crisis in Sudan is not found, the entire region could be destabilised. In Chad for example, this is the first time we are seeing so many schoolteachers settling there as refugees which is concerning because these are the people you count on to rebuild a country and its population."

 

As the conflict spreads to new areas inside Sudan, families are constantly on the move, seeking safety. The high numbers of people fleeing their homes means that after facing unimaginable trauma, many are enduring overcrowding and poor conditions at displacement camps.

 

Plan International is particularly concerned that schools across Sudan have been closed for a year, with more than 170 school buildings now being used to shelter displaced people. This means that an entire generation of 20 million children – a population close to the entire size of Australia is missing out on their right to an education.

 

The consequences of this conflict will have a devastating impact on the development of children and their mental well-being. Children out of school are at increased risk of sale, sexual abuse, exploitation, family separation, abduction, trafficking, and recruitment and use by armed groups. 

 

“The biggest concern for the children is their unclear future, they don’t know if they will have the chance to go back to school again, or back to their homes,” says Hawa Eltigani, Plan International Sudan’s Child Protection in Emergencies Specialist.

 

“The language spoken by many children is what I would call ‘conflict language’. Children are just talking about guns, shooting. They now know different types of guns, of planes. There’s also a lot of retraumatising because adults are constantly speaking about the conflict in front of the children who are now not hearing anything else.

 

“Most of the children are moving from one place to another as the war spreads. As soon as they have settled somewhere, the conflict starts there, triggering trauma [once again].”

 

Since the start of the conflict, which has created the world’s largest displacement of children, Plan International has responded by providing mobile, child friendly spaces, where children are encouraged to play, draw, sign and use techniques such as storytelling to support them process their trauma.

 

In the regions of North Darfur and South Kordofan, Plan International has recently launched a project designed to provide classrooms for informal education at a gathering point for displaced people.

 

14-year-old Mai has been able to attend these classes; “I started learning the basic subjects included mathematics, Arabic, English and Islamic. I received a school kit, a mat for sitting on in the classroom and food for me and my friends. I want to continue studying to reach my dream of becoming a great person that can help my people.

 

“I believe that with a space for learning, we will shine and do our best to succeed. I will never stop going to my lessons as it’s a new space for me and my friends. I enjoy chatting about new things, apart from the conflict. I’m enjoying being back in school and making new friends.”

 

The humanitarian and girls’ rights organisation is appealing for 11million in funding from donors, to continue to reach children and their families with life-saving humanitarian assistance.

 

In Australia, humanitarian organisations including Plan International Australia are calling on the Australian Government to urgently provide $50 million in new and additional funding to the humanitarian catastrophe occurring in Sudan. Australia’s peers have recognised the urgency and scale of this crisis. The European Union, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany having all committed more than $160m each to the Sudan response, compared to Australia’s $20.45 million to date.

 

We are calling on the Australian Government to double its contribution to the humanitarian emergency fund, from $150 million to $300 million, to meet the needs of hundreds of millions of people impacted by the massive increase in emergencies, conflicts and disasters that have unfolded around the world in recent years.

 

Plan International Australia has also launched an emergency Sudan appeal to help children and families engulfed in this invisible crisis.

ENDS 

 

NOTES TO EDITORS 

 

  • Plan International has been present in Sudan for more for more than 45 years. We are currently responding in North Darfur, White Nile, Kassala Al Gadaref and Kordofan. PIan International is also supporting people displaced by the crisis across the region in Chad, CAR, Ethiopia, Egypt, and South Sudan. Countries neighbouring Sudan impacted by this new emergency were already hosting large refugee, migrant and internally displaced populations before the crisis. Humanitarian programmes in these countries remain severely underfunded.
  • Plan International staff across the region are available for interview, including Plan Sudan staff who can share their experience of the last year, living in conflict in additional to their professional insight into humanitarian needs on the ground.
  • Plan International Australia CEO Susanne Legena, and Deputy CEO Mudasser Siddiqui – who has recently been in Ethiopia, where Plan is also responding to the Sudan crisis – are also available for in-person interviews.
  • Plan International also has b-roll, stills and case studies available for media to use.

 

 

For further information or interview requests, please contact: 

 

Claire Knox, Media and PR Manager, Plan International Australia

Email: claire.knox@plan.org.au

Phone: +61 (0)452326549

 

About Plan International 

 

Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. We believe in the power and potential of every child but know this is often suppressed by poverty, violence, exclusion, and discrimination. And it is girls who are most affected.    

 

Working together with children, young people, supporters, and partners, we strive for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges girls and vulnerable children face. We support children’s rights from birth until they reach adulthood, and we enable children to prepare for and respond to crises and adversity. We drive changes in practice and policy at local, national, and global levels using our reach, experience, and knowledge.     

 

For over 85 years, we have rallied other determined optimists to transform the lives of all children in more than 80 countries.    

We won’t stop until we are all equal.   

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