Children fleeing Sudan’s war in dire need of mental health: Save the Children  

Children fleeing Sudan’s war in dire need of mental health: Save the Children  
A photo of returnees who escaped conflict in Sudan after they arrived at Paloch Airstrip in Upper Nile State South Sudan [Yiep Joseph, The City Review]

Save the Children said most children fleeing the conflict in Sudan are in dire need of psychosocial support as they look restless and scared on arrival.

In a statement released yesterday, Save the Children South Sudan Child and Youth Protection Coordinator, Micah Yakani, said most children were facing the trauma created by the war in Sudan.

Yakani said most of those who arrived at the borders looked stressed and warned of an increase in hunger and malnutrition due to food shortages at the borders.

“Hundreds of children fleeing the violence in Sudan are arriving in South Sudan, and sisterly bordering countries are in urgent need of mental health and psychological intervention,” Yakani said.  
“Children are much stressed, this is seen through unusual behaviour such as fighting each other while others are withdrawn and stay alone. Adolescent children are also manifesting violent behaviours such as anger, desperation, and talking aggressively,” he explained.

He said that most of the returnees are in a serious food shortage and squeezed shelters, saying worries continue to mount at the borders.

“The hot meals being provided at the transit centres are not enough for everyone, and many families are going without food.

“We are also seeing signs of trauma among children, as most of the families are staying under the hot sun with no shade or shelter. The few shades we have cannot accommodate everyone,” Yakani stated.

“Water shortages are leading to violent commotions between women at the transit centre, and we fear the situation might get worse as the transit centre is completely full and many families are sheltering by the roadside.”

He added that Save the Children teams were providing mental health and psychosocial support, as well as essential supplies, to families arriving at border points in South Sudan and Egypt.
Since fighting started on April 15, more than 700,000 people have fled their homes in Sudan, which was already facing its worst humanitarian crisis due to the collision of conflict, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and economic degradation, with one-third of the population needing assistance.
Over the past month, more than 150,000 people have crossed into Egypt, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Chad, according to the UN, with reports of long waits at the crossings and limited food, water, and sanitation facilities.

Up to 45,000 people are reported to have crossed into South Sudan from Sudan, including some returnees who had left South Sudan previously to escape the conflict.

On the other hand, Laila Toema, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Technical Advisor at Save the Children Egypt, said they will continue to initiate various means to address trauma.

“Families spend two to three hours at the bus stop. During this time, we try to create safe spaces for children to play and organise activities to help parents manage the stress,” he said.