Geneva / Khartoum / Wad Madani – — More than 280 children and 70 caretakers from a Khartoum orphanage in an area affected by heavy fighting, have been evacuated to a safer location at Wad Madani, 200 kilometres from Khartoum. The evacuation was facilitated by a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
In a statement from ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday, confirms the evacuation of the Maygoma orphanage. “The children, aged between one month and 15 years, were taken to Wad Madani, about 200 kilometres from Khartoum.”
Reportedly more than 50 babies died of starvation and dehydration at the orphanage since the beginning of the current hostilities in mid April.
“Knowing these children are safe is an enormous relief,” said Jean-Christophe Sandoz, the head of the ICRC delegation in Sudan. “They spent incredibly difficult moments in an area where the conflict has been raging for the past six weeks without access to proper healthcare, an especially hard situation for children with special needs.”
According to the ICRC, some of the evacuated children suffer from mental health conditions, that could be exacerbated by the stressful conflict environment they were living in.
The statement points out that the ICRC facilitated the evacuation following the request from Sudan’s Ministry of Social Development, and in close coordination with the Ministry of Health.
“As a neutral intermediary, it [the ICRC] obtained security guarantees from the parties to the conflict to ensure safe passage for the children and the orphanage staff. Upon arrival in Wad Madani, the children were transferred to the custody of the Ministry’s personnel”.
The statement points out that the ICRC has been closely cooperating with the Sudanese Red Crescent Society to deliver surgical supplies to hospitals, help collect and identify mortal remains, and improve access to clean water, since fighting broke out in Sudan on April 15. The two organisations have also supported families who lost contact with their loved ones. In addition, the ICRC has maintained dialogue with all the parties to facilitate medical evacuations of wounded people and remind them of their obligations under the norms of international humanitarian law,” the statement concludes.
As reported by Radio Dabanga last week, reports emerged that more than 50 babies died of starvation and dehydration in Maygoma orphanage in Khartoum since the war started in mid-April. Most of the deaths were new-borns, or less than a year old, who need the most frequent feeding.