“This painting is for every child affected by war. No bullets. One rose for each child.” (10-year-old Majd)

“I drew a military tank. I saw a tank and soldiers when we were traveling to another city. And there was a fight… I wish the war would stop… I want to go home.” (Fatima)


Since the outbreak of conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in the Sudan in April 2023, civilians, particularly children, have suffered immensely. According to UNICEF, of the 24 million Sudanese children affected, 19 million are out of school and 13.6 million are in immediate need of humanitarian assistance, while the International Organization for Migration and the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs declared that approximately 10.7 million civilians have been displaced, including about 4 million children, making Sudan the largest internal displacement crisis globally.

The parties’ blatant disregard for international humanitarian and human rights law, escalating inter-communal violence and ethnically motivated attacks and heavy aerial bombardment, including in urban areas have been particularly distressing. In 2023, the deterioration of the situation has led to a dramatic rise of grave violations against children with a six-fold increase of verified violations in the last year compared to 2022 (A/77/895-S/2023/363).  The 74 percent rise in verified cases of children killed and maimed is particularly shocking and verified cases of recruitment and use (11 percent), sexual violence (6 percent), attacks on schools and hospitals and protected personnel (5 percent), denial of humanitarian access (3 percent), and abduction (1 percent) have also risen. The Darfur region remains the most dangerous for children, with more than 60 percent of verified violations occurring in the region, followed by Khartoum state (19%) and Kordofan states (14%). With a lack of options, families are often unwillingly forced to adopt negative coping mechanisms increasing the risks for children to face grave violations, including forced marriage and recruitment by parties to the conflict.

“I am deeply alarmed at the escalation of hostilities, and I have continuously called upon all parties to immediately cease hostilities, and fully comply with international humanitarian and human rights laws. I remind parties to conflict about their obligation to comply with the Declaration of Commitment to protect the civilians in Sudan, signed on 11 May 2023, which was reaffirmed under the humanitarian ceasefire agreement of 20 May 2023” stated the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Virginia Gamba.

The signing by the parties of the Statement of Commitments in Jeddah on 7 November 2023 was another positive step and the promises made by the parties – to protect civilians and guarantee unimpeded humanitarian access – must be kept and the discussions to advance towards a permanent cessation of hostilities must continue.

This is essential especially with the closure of UNITAMS, which had a strong child protection mandate in the Sudan. UNITAMS, in collaboration with UNICEF and other local partners, conducted the monitoring and verification of grave violations against children, engaged with parties to conflict, conducted trainings on child protection, helped facilitate the safe release of children from parties to conflict, and delivered explosive ordnance risk education among other things. The Mission’s closure will result in gaps in capacity and funding for child protection, including for programmatic responses.

“Child protection capacities on the ground must continue to be supported, politically, technically, and financially. I encourage Member States to support adequate financial and human resources dedicated to the monitoring and reporting of grave violations and child protection more broadly in the Sudan. It is important that integrated child protection capacity remains in the country even after UNITAMS’ departure because the work undertaken by UNITAMS will have to continue to guarantee the protection of children in the Sudan”, highlighted Virginia Gamba.

The voices of Fatima and Majd, shared by UNICEF Sudan, serve as a reminder that this funding is not just a financial necessity but a moral imperative to protect the rights and futures of the children of the Sudan. Peace is the only possible way forward to guarantee their future.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Ariane Lignier, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, New York.  ariane.lignier@un.org