UN raises alarm over child deaths in Sudan as health crisis deepens

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

Nearly six months into a conflict between Sudan's army and paramilitary group, Rapid Support Forces, the country's healthcare sector is on its knees due to direct attacks from the warring parties as well as shortages of staff and medicines, they said.

Dr. Allen Maina, chief of public health at the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), told a U.N. briefing in Geneva that more than 1,200 children under the age of five had died in the White Nile state since May. "Unfortunately we fear numbers will continue rising," he added.

The U.N. children's agency (UNICEF) said it worried that "many thousands of newborns" among the 333,000 babies known to be due before end of the year would die.

"They and their mothers need skilled delivery care. However in a country where millions are either trapped in war zones or displaced, and where there are grave shortages of medical supplies, such care is becoming less likely by the day," UNICEF spokesperson James Elder told the same briefing.

Every month, some 55,000 children require treatment for the worst form of malnutrition in Sudan, but fewer than one in 50 nutrition centres are functional in the capital Khartoum and one in ten in West Darfur, he said. REUTERS

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