Abdelrahman Mubarak, national director of SOS Children's Villages in Sudan, calls on world leaders to pressure military groups to end a war that has been a “nightmare” for the country’s children.
"The solution is to stop the war immediately … and prepare for a peaceful transition to civil rule,“ he says.
The fear and hardship in Sudan are overwhelming, explains Mr. Mubarak. Seven million people are displaced, six million of them in their own country - the highest number of internally displaced persons in the world. “They have lost everything and are no longer able to fulfil their basic needs, lacking food, medical care, clothing and shelter."
According to UN figures, every second person in Sudan will need humanitarian aid this year.
One of the effects of the war is that all of the country's schools and colleges are closed.
“The closure of schools and colleges is a nightmare for families in the war affected areas, and even for the people living in the safe states,“ he says. “The closure of schools means the future of the children and youth is very dim and they all live under high stress with the feeling that their hopes, aspirations for a better future have gone.“
SOS Children's Village Khartoum taken over by armed troops
SOS Children's Villages facilities are also directly affected by the war: Shortly after the outbreak of war, the SOS Children's Village in the capital Khartoum was forcibly taken by armed troops. The children were evacuated to safe areas, however, the families – with 90 children and 56 young people - will need to be relocated again as the fighting has spread to parts of the country previously considered safe.
“The plan to evacuate them is in progress, and the preparation for that is ongoing,“ he says, adding that at present, “They are safe. They are psychologically stable.“
Malik, 14, was in his second year of middle school when his life was abruptly disrupted by the conflict. He says fleeing the horrors of war and staying away from school makes him feel like he is losing his life and future. He has developed a desire for reading storybooks which transport him to another land, far away from all the trouble and incertainity around him.
“I miss my school and my friends, nothing ever feels like home,” says Malik. “The memories we made together, the laughter and friendship will always hold a special place in my heart.”
SOS Children's Villages has been working in Sudan for more than 40 years. The organization has launched an emergency programme to support the people affected by the war and by December 2023 had helped 10,000 children and adults with food, cash, hygiene articles and psychological support. This aid, which is vital for the survival of many people, is to be continued over the next two years.