UNICEF Director: Sudan conflict has been 'merciless' (2024)

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The U.N. says hundreds of thousands of children in Sudan have been displaced amid the ongoing violence. UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell discusses the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and the broader Horn of Africa region.

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Welcome back, the UN is out with some new dire warnings about a worsening humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

Amid the ongoing conflict, the world food program now warns that an additional 2.25 million people in Sudan are expected to slip into hunger in the coming months as a result of the ongoing violence.

Meanwhile, civilians in Sudan continue to flee their homes.

Unicef estimates, 82 000 children have fled to neighboring countries and an additional 368 000 are now internally to placed displaced.

Despite multiple ceasefire attempts fighting between the two warring military factions has continued now for almost a month earlier.

This week, I spoke with unicef's executive director Catherine Russell here in studio after she returned from Africa I began by asking about UNICEF staff that are still on the ground in Sudan and what they're telling her about the conditions on the ground and the ongoing violence I think the biggest challenge about Sudan is.

It was already a humanitarian challenge before this happened.

We estimate that almost a third of the country needed some humanitarian assistance before this conflict started, and that includes children who weren't in school I think it was seven million children.

Not in school children who were severely malnourished, who we were trying to deal with children who didn't have access to water and sanitation.

Now we have this terrible conflict which has been merciless on the population that lives there, and it's been incredibly challenging.

I always say that you know war is it's almost always whenever you have a War or conflict.

It's a war on children and I say that, because children are very dependent on Government Services right, they need education, they need water and sanitation, they need in many cases, nutrition, and this conflict has completely destabilized.

Everything that's been happening there.

What are the biggest challenges for your staff, who are still there? Well, it's interesting I was in Kenya last week and I met with our staff, many of whom had come out out of Sudan and what they were describing was absolutely horrific.

I mean they were there they in many cases it happened so quickly.

They were trapped in their apartments and their homes, because there was there's bombardments going on and there's also street fighting happening.

Uh there are these rsf forces who are pillaging all sorts of places and, and they pillaged one of our offices, and so people are hunkered down, but they have no electricity, no water, no food.

They hear all of this.

You know these sort of attacks outside there were reports of sexual violence, which was terrifying to everybody in the population, including the teams who were there.

So I think it was just really a terrifying situation.

We have been able to get many of our International staff moved out of Khartoum, but you know they.

Everybody wants to get back and help as many children as they can.

So that's really the Dilemma for us.

That's just extraordinary that people want to go back to help.

Can you help us to understand right now? Were you able to evacuate the staff who want to be evacuated and do you have an evacuation plan for those who are still on the ground there? We were able to get out all of our International staff to the port of Sudan at least, and then many of those have left the country.

Our national staff is a little bit more complicated.

Some of them don't want to leave.

Some of them are moving within the country.

Some of them have left.

So at this point, we feel pretty comfortable that we've been able to get people out now, honestly we're trying to figure out how to get people back in from the port of Sudan into the country or back into the country from outside the country.

Well, as you said at the top, Sudan relies on humanitarian Aid.

To what extent has that been disrupted and our neighboring countries able to access the areas to help to provide the help? That's needed to help to restore, for example, things like electricity to give food to help with running water.

Yeah we're pretty far away from that right now, because it's a live conflict I mean really.

The challenge for the neighboring countries is that people are fleeing so Dan.

You know we we're estimating about 700 000 people are on the Move inside the country, which is one thing and then about 150 000, so far have moved to neighboring countries, so Ethiopia Chad, Central, African, Republicans, South, South Sudan.

So people are on the move because they're, terrified and they're afraid of being killed in their homes, so it's it's very destabilizing in a region and an area that really cannot afford to be destabilized further and I know that one of the areas that you've been focused on is the impact of climate change on Sudan on crops, for example.

How has that compounded? This already very volatile situation? You know climate, it's so interesting, because when I first started this job a little over a year ago, I wasn't really focused on climate.

It wasn't something that I came in as an expert on, but as I travel I see the impact of climate change on communities and essentially what's happening.

You know, I was just when I was I said I was in Kenya and I was in eastern Kenya, where it's so dry and similar to what I saw in Ethiopia.

What you see is that these populations are dependent on crops or on animals, and when these crops or animals get in the water, they die.

What happens and the communities start again start moving and moving to places where other people live.

I visited a refugee spot in in Kenya, where so many women and children had come from Somalia, where it was just it's just dry, nothing, nothing can live there, including people, and so they leave- and you know we see this all over that region.

It's really terrible and the challenge of dealing with climate change for us is really thinking about.

How do we help communities adapt and become more resilient because we know climate change is coming, we see it and we know it's just going to get worse.

Well, let me follow up with you on Somalia, since you raised that region as well.

Previously, there had been dire warnings about what was happening in Somalia and yet not enough to declare an actual famine.

Where are we right? Now? Is the situation in Somalia a famine? No, it's not a famine.

That's actually a designation that someone makes right that some some body makes, but what I can say is it's incredibly dry right when I was in Kenya, they had five rainy rainy seasons in a in a row that failed right, and so they had just gotten a teeny bit of rain and the whole place was getting sort of greened up, which was amazing, but you can't count on that continuing and so what happened as I as I described earlier, is that these everything kind of you know depends on water right.

So when the when these communities are dry, they can't support the populations that live there, so, whether it's Somalia parts of Kenya all over the Horn of Africa, it's so destabilizing for these families and what happens especially for children, is because children rely on.

You know some sort of services on food that they need food, they're very vulnerable.

To that you know, we see high high rates of severe malnutrition and, honestly, you know I've seen it I've seen it in Ethiopia.

I saw it in Kenya, yeah I mean so many places and to see it.

Kirsten is like you know: we call it wasting and it's because children actually waste away until there's nothing left of them and if we can get to them we can help them, but we can't always get to them, and so it's it's just a devastating horrible thing to see.

It is and uh so hard to hear about too, and we thank you so much for bringing us that critical information and for the work that UNICEF is doing on the ground.

We really appreciate it.

Catherine Russell.

Thank you for your time.

Thanks for watching our YouTube channel, follow today's top stories and breaking news by downloading the NBC News app.

UNICEF Director: Sudan conflict has been 'merciless' (2024)


Is UNICEF helping Sudan? ›

UNICEF and partners are prioritizing to provide safe passage and protection of children, their families, and our staff across Sudan.

What is the root of the current conflict in Sudan? ›

Years of authoritarian rule, civil wars, and mismanagement of economic resources have left many Sudanese suspicious of their leaders as they violate their oath of office. Sudan's past instability is at the root of ongoing conflicts and insecurity.

Who is the conflict in Sudan between? ›

Tensions between the RSF and the Sudanese junta began to escalate in February 2023, as the RSF began to recruit members from across Sudan. A military buildup in Khartoum was succeeded by an agreement for de-escalation, with the RSF withdrawing its forces from the Khartoum area.

What are the implications of the Sudan conflict? ›

To summarise: the current conflict in Sudan could lead to increased transit migration from the Horn and East Africa towards North Africa, and potentially onward to Europe. Smuggling, and potentially trafficking and exploitation, are likely to increase.

Does the US send aid to Sudan? ›

The United States Announces $245 Million in Humanitarian Assistance to Sudan and Neighboring Countries. Last week the United States announced $245 million in additional support to the people of Sudan and neighboring countries experiencing the impacts of the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Which country donates the most to UNICEF? ›

UNICEF public sector partner

To halt the spread of malaria, some 19 million USAID-funded mosquito nets will be distributed to families. As UNICEF's largest donor, the United States of America is an indispensable partner.

What is the main problem in Sudan? ›

Political tensions and instability

Current violence has greatly exacerbated Sudan's humanitarian crisis while reducing the ability of humanitarian organizations to deliver life-saving aid.

What are the two main causes for conflict within Sudan? ›

A conflict raging in Sudan is rattling its neighbours and other countries for reasons ranging from concern about shared Nile waters and oil pipelines to the shape of a new government and a new humanitarian crisis in the making. Sudan, which relies heavily on foreign aid, is no stranger to conflict.

What is happening in Sudan right now 2023? ›

Sudan is going through the most complex crisis in its contemporary history. It started with an attempted coup by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on April 15, 2023, which turned into a rebellion. The crisis generated an unprecedented number of causalities, widespread human suffering and devastation.

Is the conflict in Sudan still going on? ›

The ongoing conflict has left hundreds of people dead, thousands more wounded and hundreds of thousands displaced, according to figures from the United Nations. It has also prompted a number of countries, including the United States, to evacuate personnel from Sudan and shutter diplomatic missions there indefinitely.

Is there still fighting in Sudan? ›

Sudan has suffered three internal wars spanning more than 40 years of its 67 years as a nation. Two rival generals are now battling in the capital Khartoum, raising fears of another ruinous conflict.

Does the US have sanctions on Sudan? ›

Accordingly, Sudan is no longer subject to prohibitions under the Terrorism List Governments Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR part 596 (TLGSR), or section 906(a)(1) of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7205).

What human rights is Sudan violating? ›

The experts deplored human rights abuses experienced by “civilians of all ages”, including sexual assault and gender-based violence, and shortages of food, water and healthcare.

What is Sudan known for? ›

Sudan is known for its large coastline of about 900km. It is also famous for its proximity to the Red Sea, the confluence of the River Nile, and its Gum Arabic. There are many other interesting facts about Sudan than just the conflicts they are facing.

What is the religion of Sudan? ›

2020 Pew Research Center data estimates that 91 percent of the population is Muslim, 5.4 percent Christian, 2.8 percent follow Indigenous religions, and the remainder follow other religions or are unaffiliated. Some religious advocacy groups estimate non-Muslims make up more than 13 percent of the population.

How is the US responding to the crisis in Sudan? ›

The United States is implementing three specific measures to promote accountability for the actions committed by the two forces, including imposing visa restrictions, levying economic sanctions, and updating our business advisory for Sudan.

What can the US do to help Sudan? ›

The U.S. and its allies should engage directly with the grassroots democracy movement as the rightful stewards of a future, peaceful Sudan. The international community should also support local resistance committees and community leaders who have most effectively protected and provided for the vulnerable.

What has the US done for Sudan? ›

The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing an initial $103 million in additional humanitarian assistance to support Sudan and neighboring countries experiencing the impacts of the crisis.

Does the US contribute to UNICEF? ›

Why U.S. Government Support Matters to UNICEF. UNICEF's partnership with the U.S. Government and the American people makes a profound difference in children's lives.

Is there a difference between UNICEF and UNICEF USA? ›

UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories, helping to save and meaningfully improve the lives of children globally — focusing on the most vulnerable. UNICEF USA advances the global mission of UNICEF by rallying the American public to support the world's most vulnerable children.

What percentage does UNICEF keep? ›

UNICEF USA's reported program expense ratio of 90 percent means we are a highly efficient charity, as defined by independent monitors. For every dollar spent, 90 cents goes directly toward helping children; we spend about 8 cents on fundraising costs and just under 2 cents on administration.

Why did Sudan become poor? ›

Sudan is one of the poorest developing countries in the world with over 40% of its citizens living below the poverty line. Poverty in Sudan results from a combination of factors ranging from the country's location in the Sahara desert to rampant government corruption.

Why is Sudan unsafe? ›

Armed conflict is ongoing throughout Sudan and includes heavy fighting between various political and security groups. The situation is violent, volatile, and extremely unpredictable, particularly in the capital city Khartoum.

What do homes in Sudan look like? ›

The traditional, rectangular or square box-house (bayt jalus) with a flat roof, made of pure dried clay, sun-dried mud, brick or cow-dung plaster (zibala), continues to be the dominant architectural type in Sudan. In its pure form, wooden frames are used only for the roof, windows and doors.

What percentage of people voted to leave Sudan? ›

On 7 February 2011, the referendum commission published the final results, with a landslide majority of 98.83% voting in favour of independence.

How to solve South Sudan conflict? ›

Restoring stability in South Sudan will require ending conflicts and addressing the grievances behind them; strengthening core institutions and improving governance transparency processes to make them more inclusive; fighting corruption; and responding to the expectations of the population for essential services and ...

How many wars are going on right now in 2023? ›

Seven Global Conflicts to Watch in 2023.

Why are so many people leaving Sudan? ›

People are fleeing Sudan's conflict for an uncertain future as refugees : NPR. People are fleeing Sudan's conflict for an uncertain future as refugees Refugees from Sudan have poured into nearby countries because of on-going fighting between rival factions.

Who is leaving Sudan? ›

The refugees were primarily women and children who also lacked several basic needs. Authorities reported that the refugees included South Sudanese, Sudanese, Ugandan, Kenyan, Eritrean and Somali nationals. By June, the number of refugees had risen to over 115,000.

Why is war going on in Sudan? ›

Civil war was sparked in 1983 when the military regime tried to impose sharia law as part of its overall policy to "Islamicize" all of Sudan. Beginning in 1983, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) led insurrections in the south, a region dominated by Animists and Christians.

Why is Sudan banned from the US? ›

After Brigadier General Omar al-Bashir took power in a 1989 coup backed by Islamists, Sudan established links with international terrorist organizations, resulting in the United States' designation of Sudan as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1993 and the suspension of U.S. Embassy operations in 1996.

How did the Sudan war end? ›

The fighting ended in 2005, when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and John Garang, who was the leader of the southern independence movement, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The United States played a large role in reaching the peace agreement.

How many people have died in Sudan? ›

Smoke billows in Khartoum amid ongoing fighting between the forces of two rival generals in Sudan on May 6, 2023. The World Health Organization says the death toll from nearly one month of brutal fighting in Sudan is now over 600. The U.N.

How many Americans are in Sudan? ›

Fewer Than 5,000 US Citizens Estimated to Remain in Sudan Amid Conflict.

Who are the two sides fighting in Sudan? ›

The clashes in Sudan are between the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group, led by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. Until recently, the leaders of the two forces were allies.

Is Sudan rich or poor? ›

Sudan - Poverty and wealth. Sudan is one of the poorest countries of the world. Most of the population lives in unbelievably hard conditions. One of the Sahel countries, Sudan is located in the Sahara desert.

Who is allied with Sudan? ›

Egypt and Sudan have enjoyed intimate and longstanding historical ties, seeing as they are each other's closest allies in the North African region. The two countries are connected by various cultural ties and political aspirations.

Does the US support South Sudan? ›

The U.S. commitment to addressing the humanitarian needs of the South Sudanese population remained steadfast. In FY 2022, the United States continued to be the leading international donor to South Sudan, providing more than $993 million in humanitarian assistance.

What does Sudan export to us? ›

In 2021, United States did not export any services to Sudan. Sudan-United States In 2021, Sudan exported $19.2M to United States. The main products that Sudan exported to United States were Insect Resins ($18.6M), Paintings ($271k), and Antiques ($99.1k).

Is slavery illegal in Sudan? ›

It is true that the [NIF] regime has not enacted a law to realize slavery in Sudan. But the traditional concept of jihad does allow slavery as a by-product [of jihad]. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International first reported on slavery in Sudan in 1995 in the context of the Second Sudanese Civil War.

What country violates human rights the most? ›

In a scale from zero to 10, where zero represents the best conditions and 10 the worst, Yemen had the highest points and was closely followed by Iran, and China.

Does Sudan allow freedom of religion? ›

The regime of Omar al-Bashir had just been overthrown, and a transitional Government had a mandate to establish democratic elections. The country's new constitution enshrined freedom of religion or belief, the apostasy law was repealed and many closed churches were allowed to open.

What did Sudan used to be called? ›

Prior to this, Sudan was known as Nubia and Ta Nehesi or Ta Seti by Ancient Egyptians named for the Nubian and Medjay archers or bowmen.

Who colonized Sudan? ›

The UK and Egypt ruled present-day Sudan and South Sudan through a dual colonial government known as the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1899–1956). Britain was the senior partner in this administration, as Egypt itself was politically and militarily subordinate to Britain.

Are Christians allowed in Sudan? ›

The Naivasha Agreement technically protects non-Muslims in the north. Some interpretations of Muslim law in Sudan refuse to recognize conversions out of Islam, considering apostacy a crime, and refuse to recognize marriages to non-Muslims. Sudan is one of the nations where being a Christian is hardest in the world.

Does Sudan allow alcohol? ›

In 2020 the Sudanese authorities amended the law on alcohol to allow consumption by non-Muslims, but not in the company of Muslims. In practice, non-Muslims drinking alcohol may face arrest regardless of the circ*mstances.

What is the main food in Sudan? ›

Sudanese cuisine consists of a generous share of stews and gravies—often eaten by hand—fresh and cooked salads, dips, lime, peanut, rice dishes, sweet and savory pastries, unique breads, and decadent desserts. In line with other Muslim-majority countries, lamb and chicken are the preferred meats.

What organization is helping Sudan? ›

The Sudan Relief Fund Home – Sudan Relief Fund.

Who is helping the people in Sudan? ›

World Vision is one of the largest humanitarian aid organizations active in Sudan, having worked there for nearly four decades.

Is anyone helping South Sudan? ›

As the largest donor to the humanitarian response in South Sudan, the United States Government continues to promote inclusive and long-term socioeconomic growth, reduced reliance on humanitarian assistance, and resilience activities to empower local communities.

What countries is UNICEF working on? ›

UNICEF has regional offices in South Asia — with country offices in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — and in East Asia and the Pacific, where programming reaches children in Cambodia, China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Indonesia, Lao People's ...

Does the US support Sudan or South Sudan? ›

The United States provides $1 billion annually in humanitarian and development assistance and peacekeeping support to South Sudan.

What is the best charity to donate to Sudan? ›

Save the Children has served as a leading charity for children in Sudan since 1983, starting with our work to provide humanitarian relief during drought-caused hunger crises across the country, then to programming for children and families affected by violent conflict, displacement, extreme poverty and a lack of basic ...

What has the US done to help Sudan? ›

The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing an initial $103 million in additional humanitarian assistance to support Sudan and neighboring countries experiencing the impacts of the crisis.

Is USA accepting Sudanese refugees? ›

The most successful have been the refugees in Kenya and Libya. A total of 123 people fled to the United States from Sudan. With 90 positive decisions, 76.27 percent of all new applications have been accepted. Another 28 applications were rejected, and no decisions were made on those remaining in 2022.

Who is Sudan best friend? ›

Egypt and Sudan have enjoyed intimate and longstanding historical ties, seeing as they are each other's closest allies in the North African region.

Is Sudan friends with the US? ›

The United States established diplomatic relations with Sudan in 1956, following its independence from joint administration by Egypt and the United Kingdom. Sudan broke diplomatic relations with the United States in 1967 after the start of the Arab-Israeli War. Relations were reestablished in 1972.

Is it safe to live in Sudan? ›

Armed conflict is ongoing throughout Sudan and includes heavy fighting between various political and security groups. The situation is violent, volatile, and extremely unpredictable, particularly in the capital city Khartoum.

Why are so many people leaving South Sudan? ›

The majority of those fleeing South Sudan are women and children. They are survivors of violent attacks, sexual assault, and in many cases, children are traveling alone. Often, they arrive weak and malnourished. When the rainy season comes, their needs are compounded by flooding, food shortages and disease.

Does the US support UNICEF? ›

The U.S. Government has historically been a major funder for UNICEF's global development and humanitarian programs – reflecting the values of UNICEF supporters like you. UNICEF USA is extremely grateful to Congress for including a $3 million increase for FY23 totaling $137 million in core resources for UNICEF.

Is UNICEF USA part of the UN? ›

UNICEF became a permanent part of the UN system in 1953. UNICEF is non-partisan and its cooperation is free of discrimination.

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