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Aid agencies have successfully rescued over 280 infants, toddlers, and older children, along with 70 caregivers, from an orphanage that found itself caught in heavy fighting in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. The evacuation was prompted by the tragic deaths of more than 70 children due to hunger and illness since mid-April.

On Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that one of its teams had facilitated the safe evacuation of the Maygoma Orphanage. “Knowing these children are safe is an immense relief,” stated Jean-Christophe Sandoz, the head of the ICRC delegation in Sudan.

According to the ICRC, the children rescued ranged in age from 1 month to 15 years, and some were dealing with mental health conditions that could potentially be exacerbated by the extremely stressful circumstances they had endured. The ICRC stated in a release, “They went through incredibly difficult moments in an area where the conflict has been raging for the past 6 weeks, without access to proper healthcare. This situation was especially challenging for children with special needs.”

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Due to the fighting between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the vicinity of the orphanage, only a limited number of staff were available to care for the hundreds of children. With insufficient care, food, and water, the children started to lose their lives in the government-operated facility as the conflict continued nearby.

The aid organization managed to secure security guarantees from the warring parties, enabling safe passage for the children and orphanage staff. They have been relocated to Wad Madani, approximately 200 kilometers away from Khartoum.

According to the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF, the situation for children in the country is worsening with each passing day of the ongoing conflict. UNICEF estimates that approximately 13.6 million children now depend on humanitarian aid.

The fighting, which has been ongoing since mid-April, has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people and the displacement of over a million individuals. Hundreds of thousands of them have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

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