The United Nations is sounding the alarm over child deaths in Sudan as the health crisis deepens

GENEVA (Reuters) – More than 1,200 children have died of suspected measles and malnutrition in Sudanese refugee camps, while many thousands more, including newborns, are at risk of death before the end of the year, United Nations (UN) agencies said on Tuesday.

Almost six months after the start of the conflict between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces, the country’s health sector is devastated due to direct attacks by the warring parties as well as shortages of personnel and medicine, it said.

Dr. Allen Maina, public health chief at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), told a UN briefing in Geneva that more than 1,200 children under five have died in the White Nile state since May. “Unfortunately, we fear that the numbers will continue to rise,” he added.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it feared “many thousands of newborns” would die among the 333,000 babies known to be born before the end of the year.

“They and their mothers need skilled birth assistance. “But in a country where millions are either trapped or displaced in war zones and where there are severe shortages of medical care, such care is becoming less likely by the day,” UNICEF spokesman James Elder told the same briefing.

About 55,000 children in Sudan need treatment for the worst form of malnutrition every month, but fewer than one in 50 nutrition centers are functioning in the capital Khartoum and one in 10 in West Darfur, he said.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

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