SOS Children in Sudan
Despite the signing of a peace deal in 2005, the conflict, unrest and suffering in Sudan continues. SOS Children has been active in Sudan since 1978 and continues to support refugees, child soldiers and families affected by the conflict. Read on for more details about our work and how you can help.
Sudan background information
The People's Republic of Sudan is the largest country in Africa (ten times the size of the United Kingdom), and is situated on the shores of the Red Sea between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Egypt. It is one of the poorest countries in the world with an average daily income of less than £1. Its economic and social problems are immense, compounded by the ongoing civil war which started in 1983. Over a million people have died and four million have been displaced, while frequent droughts and harvest failures mean there is insufficient food to meet the country's needs. 1n 2003 there were 1.3 million orphans in Sudan - that's 9% of all children in Sudan. 91,000 of these children were orphaned by AIDS and 1.2 million by conflict. (Statistics: UNICEF 'Children on the Brink 2004' July 2004).
SOS Children in Sudan
SOS Children has been active in Sudan since 1978 when the first SOS Children's Village and nursery school were built on land donated by the Sudanese government on the outskirts of the capital Khartoum. The village has 15 family homes and two youth homes. In 1982 an SOS school (primary and secondary), which is also open to children from the neighbourhood, was built in Suba about twenty minutes walk from the village. Eight new classrooms were added to the school in 1995. A farm on the banks of the Nile, not far from Suba, provides vocational training for SOS youths as well as food for the village, with the surplus being sold locally.
As part of the International Year of the Family in 1995, SOS Children constructed an artesian well in the El Salama district of Khartoum which supplies fresh water to about 25,000 people in the area. Sudan's second SOS Children's Village opened in 2002 in Malakal, the capital of the Upper Nile province in the south of the country. The 10 family houses are home to 100 children. Health and welfare facilities in the neighbourhood are virtually non-existent and an SOS Mother and Child Clinic is being built to provide medical care for families and children in the area as well as a nursery school.
Sudan emergency relief
SOS Children has been active in providing emergency relief in Sudan during the many years of conflict. In 1998, during the war, six food distribution centres were established in Wau in the south of the country providing warm meals and food parcels as well as medicines and clothing. A camp with 41 huts and a small clinic were also set up and efforts to support local communities to become self-sufficient and not dependent on aid were established.
Currently, SOS Children runs three Family Centres, which support families displaced by the ongoing conflict in the Dafur region. Families in the Abu Shok Refugee Camp, in Al-Fashir, Dafur, have been receiving assistance from two centres since early 2005, and in June 2006 a third centre was opened to support even more of the 100,000 refugees currently seeking shelter at the camp.
The centres support the many vulnerable families with basic needs, such as food, water, clothes and medication, as well as counselling, phsycological support and therapy. The new centre also acts as a kind of 'temporary village', where children can spend the day and receive personal attention regarding their physical and mental well-being as well as educational and personal support.
SOS Children also helps former child soldiers in Malakal, in southern Sudan. As part of the peace negotiations with the government in Khartoum, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement has been demobilising hundreds of child soldiers since March 2005. Many of these children, ranging in age from 10 to 17 years, had been recruited by force (some of them as young as eight) to fight as child soldiers in a civil war that has been on-going for over two decades. Former child soldiers began to arrive in Malakal, where an SOS Children's Village was established in 2002, seeking assistance to find their families and a future.
Sudan child soldiers
"Thousands of child soldiers are now running in South Sudan anxious for their future - (wishing) to trade their guns for games, their bombs for books and their hurt for hope." Mr Sudan M. Ali Mahdi, National Director, SOS Children's Villages Sudan.
SOS Children is working tirelessly to ensure that these children, once freed of their 'soldier' status, can return to a normal life as swiftly and securely as possible. With the village as a central base, SOS Children immediately began a child soldier rehabilitation programme. This programme provides former child soldiers with medical check-ups and medicine, food, clothes, shelter and psychological therapy. In addition, a family tracing and reunification programme has been established to help reunite child soldiers with their long lost families.
As the vast majority of child soldiers do not have ID cards, therefore excluding them from access to education, SOS Children has set up an education 'Back to School' campaign. The organisation is working in an advocacy role to get these children back into school on a one-to-one basis and is providing informal speech, literacy and mathematics programmes for children not in school. SOS Children is also working to create 'child-friendly' spaces for entertainment, sports and recreation. Currently several hundred former child soldiers are benefiting full-time from all of the above services. In addition around 500 ex-soldiers receive food, clothes and shelter and attend entertainment and recreation services.
Long-term support for Sudanese child soldiers
Whilst conscious of these short-term needs, SOS Children is also working to repair the lives of these children in the long-term. We provide schooling and also run a "back to school" campaign to help to re-start the local education process. Children can recover, and, given the chance, have an amazing capacity to be children again.
SOS Children in Sudan
SOS Children's Villages Association of Sudan, Gamhouria Street, P.O.Box 1988, Khartoum, Sudan
Tel: +249/183/78 20 72 or +249/183/78 14 19
Fax: +249/183/77 16 21
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