The Sudan crisis: Battles threaten “World’s Food Basket,” 19 million students out of school

UN warnings about the battles reaching the state of Al-Jazirah in southern Sudan, described as the “food basket,” come as concerns mount over the future of 19 million children out of school due to the ongoing conflict since April 15th last year.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General Clementine Nkweta Salami, stated that “if the battles reach the state of Al-Jazirah, it will have dire consequences for food security,” noting that “violence has already paralyzed the healthcare sector in Sudan, with 70% of all hospitals non-functional.”

Displacement crisis

As the battles continue, the UN official, during a press conference, mentioned that the conflict has created the world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis, threatening to surpass the maximum efforts of the organization to assist those in need.

She added that “the past six months have caused indescribable suffering and forced over 5.4 million people to leave their homes.”

She pointed out “almost 30,000 people are fleeing daily due to the fighting, some with nothing but the clothes on their backs.”

 mentioned that she “met mothers in Sudan who told her they don’t know how they will find the next meal for their children,” emphasizing that nearly half of Sudan’s population (about 24.7 million people) now require humanitarian assistance and protection.

The humanitarian affairs official in Sudan stressed the need to provide more support safely, repeatedly, and rapidly. She pointed out the necessity of reaching 18 million people, and the United Nations will not give up on this goal.

Worst educational crisis

On the other hand, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned that the ongoing war in Sudan is impacting the school year.

The organization said that about 19 million children are out of school as the conflict between the army and the Rapid Support Forces approaches its sixth month.

Among this total – or one child out of every three children in the country – about 6.5 million children have lost access to school due to increased violence and lack of security in their areas, with at least 10,400 schools closed in conflict-affected areas. Meanwhile, more than 5.5 million children living in less war-affected areas are waiting for local authorities to confirm whether it is possible to reopen the classrooms.

Earlier this week, the Sudanese government announced the possibility of resuming classes in the non-conflict-affected states. However, the decision is facing opposition from several educational and union sectors, considering that dozens of schools in safe states have been turned into shelters for war refugees in Khartoum. Also, thousands of students have been displaced to remote villages with their families or have left Sudan to escape the fighting.

According to a joint press statement from UNICEF and the Save the Children organization, nearly 7 million children were out of school before the outbreak of the fighting last April.

It added, “If the war continues, no child in Sudan will be able to return to school in the coming months, leaving them vulnerable to immediate and long-term risks, including displacement and recruitment by armed groups.”

The statement quoted UNICEF’s representative in Sudan, Mandip Obrayan, saying that “Sudan is on the verge of becoming home to the worst educational crisis in the world.”

It pointed out the children’s exposure to the horrors of war over the past six months, after being forced to leave their classrooms, teachers, and friends, making them at risk of falling into a gap that threatens the future of an entire generation.

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