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Lack of money forces closure of 11 UN health clinics in Sudan

A further 49 clinics are under threat of closure due to financial shortfalls, with the UNs appeal for the country close to 50% underfunded

Eleven health facilities in Sudan, funded by the UN and serving people displaced by conflict in the region, have been forced to close due to lack of money.

Funding shortfalls also threaten the closure of a further 49 clinics in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, with $7m (5.69m) required to keep the facilities open for another year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

About 1 million people are likely to be affected by the closure of the clinics, with poverty deepening amid the countrys economic crisis.

About 4.6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Sudan, more than half of those children. Food insecurity has been exacerbated by unrest in Darfur, which has resulted in the displacement of an estimated 2.6 million people, at a time when the country is also struggling with an influx of nearly 250,000 refugees fleeing conflict in South Sudan. According to Ocha, more than 2 million children under the age of five are acutely malnourished.

Ocha Sudan spokeswoman Samantha Newport said the UN appeal for the country is almost 50% underfunded.

We hear in the news about Syria, Yemen, Libya and South Sudan, and rightly so, and it does mean Sudan not always, but often just falls off everybodys radar because we are in the 14th year of the Darfur crisis. In the beginning there is a huge amount of media interest and by extension often donor interest, she said.

The donors are incredibly stretched over the world. Ocha has launched the global humanitarian overview for 2017 and there are more people and more countries targeted for humanitarian assistance than ever, around $22bn.

The majority of the UNs humanitarian work in Sudan is funded by the US and the EU.

Unicef representative Abdullah A Fadil, former head of office for the UN mission in Sudan, said he was looking to alternative donors including the private sector in Sudan to meet a funding shortfall.

All the UN is suffering, we only have 40% of the money we need for the year, said Fadil. We call [on] all the donors to fill the gap, including the Sudanese.

Lack of funds has led to job losses. Naeema al-Gasseer, the World Health Organisations representative in Sudan, said: I am stretched because of my limited staff. In some of the states we only have two officers; we need at least two more in each of our offices in Sudan to be able to work.

One UN worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was told he will be out of a job in six months. He said he is worried about money as he has four children and supports his parents and younger siblings.

I wake up around 4am in the morning every day to look for jobs online and to learn new skills using digital courses because I was told that [my job will be] stopped in six months. The international organisation can no longer afford to pay me.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jan/10/lack-of-money-forces-closure-of-11-un-united-nations-health-clinics-in-sudan