In January 2005, after 21 years, the war between the north and south of Sudan ended. The southern rebels and government in the north signed a peace agreement, which now gives new hope to the four million refugees who for many years have lived in camps and settlements, or with relatives elsewhere in the vast country. With the agreement, the possibility of a return to their homes and communities has come closer.
See Photo gallery of the Peace Day 2007 event in Sudan
Still no peace
The peace agreement between north and south Sudan does not involve the western part of the country: Darfur. An ongoing conflict has since 2003 taken the lives of about 200.000 people, and forced 2.4 million people in the region to move away from their homes. Because of their non-stop exposure to violence, many Sudanese do not know what it means to live in peace. Former social and cultural structures have been demolished or have totally disappeared due to the conflict.
Children in Sudan
Needless to say, children in Sudan grow up in very unstable conditions. Malnutrition, disease, poor education and permanent insecurity have a grave effect on great numbers of children. For mostly the same reasons, adults are often unable to support them properly. Many children have lost one or both parents to the war or have been separated while the family fled from the violence. Families have great difficulties to make a living, and more often than not children have to join in hard labour for the family to be able to survive. Accordingly only half of the population of Sudanese children attends a school.
The work of War Child
War Child works in and around the IDP-communities of Sudanese capital Khartoum, and in the southern cities of Juba and Yei, where many refugees have temporarily settled prior to making their decision whether or not to return to their communities. War Child has also been active in the city of Malakal, but was forced to leave there as a result op the continuing insecurity caused by armed groups fighting each other in the city streets. Children could not join the activities and security of our field staff was at stake.
Because of the previous decades of warfare, one way or another every child in Sudan has been affected by the war. That is why War Child has developed an extensive and easily accessible programme. In close cooperation with local communities and organizations, War Child organizes a wide array of activities: large-scale play days for children, informative events for the community, education of youth groups, discussion groups for parents, youngsters and children, and training of teachers. Community groups are also taught to take upon them the responsibility of addressing protection issues of children. These issues concern the absence of playgrounds, violence by and among family members, youth unemployment, and the local practice of parents, sometimes forced by their circumstances, to only allow their children to visit school after they have worked.
As mentioned before, War Child educates youth groups and community leaders. This in order to stimulate the durability and effectiveness of our programs. The groups consist of ten to twenty youngsters of about sixteen years of age. Thus, should War Child leave Sudan, the groups will be able to continue and follow up on its work. The youth groups are educated in management and organization, budgeting, organizing events and the use of creative activities during events. As well as the education, War Child supports communities to develop safe locations for children, where these events can be held.
Read CRISIS PROFILE at Alertnet-
- What’s going on in Sudan?
- What’s going on in Darfur?