Sudanese children haunted by violence, psychological trauma amid civil conflict-Xinhua

Sudanese children haunted by violence, psychological trauma amid civil conflict

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-05-30 17:59:15

This photo taken with a mobile phone on April 17, 2024, shows volunteers repairing damaged power supply facilities in Omdurman, Sudan. (Photo by Mohamed Khidir/Xinhua)

KHARTOUM, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Being unable to attend school for more than a year, Ahmed Adam, an 11-year-old boy living south of Sudan's capital Khartoum, said he has been living in constant fear because of the continued civil conflict.

"The sound of shelling and cannon fire can be heard every day," Adam said. "My brothers and I had to hide under the bed or inside the wardrobe," he lamented.

The ongoing conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has exposed the Sudanese children to various forms of violence and deprived them of homes and education, causing trauma for the generation.

Ehab Hashim, a father of three living in the Mujahideen neighborhood in southern Khartoum, told Xinhua that his children have shown signs of psychological disturbances due to the conflict.

"Upon hearing the sound of cannons or warplanes at any time, my kids would scream and hide under beds and chairs," he said.

His eldest son Amr, who is 11 years old, has suffered from urinary incontinence, "a sign of psychological disorder resulting from fear and anxiety," he said, noting he is seriously considering relocating to safe areas inside Sudan, as he could no longer stand seeing his kids in panic.

This file photo taken on April 25, 2023, shows people fleeing from Sudan at a bus station in Aswan, Egypt. (Photo by Radwan Abu Elmagd/Xinhua)

According to estimates by the United Nations (UN), Sudan is facing the largest child displacement crisis in the world, involving over 4 million children.

Abdul Qadir Abdullah Abu, secretary-general of the National Council for Child Welfare in Sudan, told Xinhua that children were mainly affected by the interruption of education, lack of health services, displacement, malnutrition, and forced recruitment, noting that statistics indicated the RSF has recruited about 15,000 children in areas under its control. 

In the meantime, the large number of children seeking refuge abroad were also troubled by trauma and dire living conditions, experts said.

Sadiya al-Rasheed, an activist working at a Sudanese refugee camp in the Chadian town of Adre on the border with Sudan, said the conditions of children in the camp are "very tragic."

"Children took refuge here after the massacres in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, but unfortunately, the camp is not a safe place for them," she said.

"Children suffer the most from the fighting. They fled from familiar environments, homes, and schools and were haunted by psychological trauma because of the horror they saw and experienced," al-Rasheed said.

This file photo taken on April 18, 2023, shows a street view after armed clashes in Khartoum, Sudan. Fierce fighting broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on April 15. (Photo by Mohamed Khidir/Xinhua)

"Large numbers of children are suffering from fear and nightmares, which require family support or special treatment at specialized institutions," Abdullah Yaqoub, a psychiatrist, told Xinhua.

Also, more than 90 percent of Sudan's 19 million school-age children have no access to formal education, which could result in a generational crisis, according to the UN Children's Fund.

The deadly fighting between the SAF and the RSF, since its eruption on April 15, 2023, has killed 15,550 people and displaced over 8.8 million others so far, according to a recent report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.  


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