Darfur (Sudan/Chad) - Region in crisis

 

‘Child-friendly centres’ help bring hope to Darfur’s children

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Sudan/2005
Children at a UNICEF-supported school in Darfur greet Ms. Salah.

By Kun Li

NEW YORK, 19 May 2005 – While the ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region continue to make international headlines, the children of families who have fled to the region’s displaced persons camps now have safe places to gather, laugh and play.

During her April visit to Ottash Camp in South Darfur, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah met with boys and girls at one of the over 170 UNICEF-supported ‘child-friendly centres’ in the region. She was deeply touched by the children’s resilience and by their overall optimism.

“I visited the children at the ‘child-friendly centres’ where we have thousands of boys and girls, and they love to be in those centres. They can learn to read and write, and they feel they are protected. One of the girls told me that she thanks UNICEF, because we bring them light. She said we should continue to bring this light to the boys and girls of Darfur,” said Ms. Salah.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Sudan/2005
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah meets with boys and girls at a UNICEF-supported ‘child-friendly centre’ in Darfur.

This positive spirit is reflected in the art the children create at the centres. “The drawings are full of beautiful figures – like trees and flowers – in bright colours. It shows that these children still have hope,” observed Ms. Salah. The children at Ottash Camp gave several drawings to Ms. Salah, which she said she would cherish as precious gifts, and show to the world to help highlight the plight of Darfur’s children.

Successes amid violence and insecurity

Ms. Salah also witnessed firsthand the achievements of UNICEF and its partners for millions of people affected by the conflict. Remarkably, despite the conflict there are currently more than 250,000 children enrolled in school in Darfur – a larger number than ever before.

At more than 150 health facilities, UNICEF is helping to provide approximately 1.7 million people – almost 70 per cent of the conflict-affected population – with primary health care. In addition, more than 1.75 million people now have access to safe drinking water.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Sudan/2005
Ms. Salah talks with a woman and her children at one of Darfur’s camps.

Despite these successes, the overall picture is one of continued violence and insecurity. Furthermore, the World Food Programme and other UNICEF partners have warned that man-made famine looms. Fear and displacement have prevented farmers from tilling their fields. Millions are facing the possibility of severe food shortages.

The ‘child-friendly centres’ provide an important refuge for Darfur’s children, but much more is needed to ensure that they and their families have a future they can look forward to.


 

 

Video

April 2005:
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah met with boys and girls living in Darfur’s camps for people forced to flee their homes.

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