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UN children's agency warns millions of Sudanese children going hungry

SUDAN is one of the worst places in the world for children, the head of the United Nations children's agency has warned, as millions of children are going hungry and not attending school.

Unicef executive director Catherine Russell said this week that the African nation now has the largest displacement of children of any country around the globe.

Children are at the sharp end of Sudan’s hunger crisis as warring parties are both restricting the delivery of desperately needed aid.

Ms Russell told the BBC: “Nine million [children] don’t get enough to eat regularly and nearly four million face acute malnutrition.

“We’re long past time where we need to act. We need to act now or it’s just going to get worse.

“You can always eventually make progress on something, so nothing is completely impossible.

“But for individual babies, for children, who are starving now, who are hungry, who are now severely malnourished, it will be too late for them.”

Last week, the World Food Programme (WFP), another UN agency, said that families in Sudan’s western Darfur region had received an emergency increase in food aid, but its warned that the 5,000 tons was still not enough to avert a famine.

In May, the WFP revealed in a report that at least 1.7 million people were already experiencing emergency levels of hunger in Darfur.

Ms Russell said on Monday that she could not say whether the Sudanese military or its paramilitary rival the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were using hunger as a weapon of war, but the crisis was “100 per cent man-made.”

“The challenge for us is not that we don’t have the food: it’s that we can’t get it to the people who need it,” she explained.

Sudan has five million displaced children, the highest number in the world, Ms Russell said, and nearly all of its youngsters are not attending school, so they are in danger of becoming a lost generation that could contribute to future instability.

“It’s hard to reteach them because that’s a lot of lost learning,” she said. “But it’s also hard, in many cases, to get them back into the classroom.

“So in that sense, they can become lost … And if you lose that, what do we think the future is going to be like? It’s going to be unstable.”

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