Sudan

UNICEF steps up campaign to protect children

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© UNICEF/HQ04-0265/Nesbitt
Abu Shouk camp for displaced people, North Darfur

DARFUR, 7 June 2002—UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched a major campaign in the Darfur region to protect more than two million children from measles, a major killer in the developing world. Immunization teams are supplying vitamin A supplements along with the vaccinations, as well as protecting more than 100,000 children near the Chad border against polio.  The month-long campaign is being led by the Sudanese Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF, in coordination with several national and international organizations.

Aid agencies are stepping up their efforts to support the more than one million people who have fled their homes in Darfur, as well as over 100,000 refugees in neighbouring Chad.  Villages were abandoned after months of attacks by Janjaweed militia. Houses, schools and hospitals were destroyed, cattle stolen and many people were attacked or killed.

Concerns are growing about the vulnerability of the vast displaced populations in the region, with the rainy season expected shortly.  Many villagers have been unable to plant crops for this year.  Aid agencies estimate that around 30,000 children are moderately malnourished, and 5,500 are suffering from severe malnutrition.  So far around twenty-five feeding centres have been set up serving thousands of children, but many more are urgently needed: Each time a new centre is opened it is flooded with sick and malnourished children.  Alongside partners such as WHO and Médecins Sans Frontières, UNICEF is providing drugs and therapeutic milk to the feeding centres and is working to increase food provision across the region.

Supplying water to Darfur’s families is also a difficult and vital task.  Around a third of displaced people now have access to safe drinking water, but much more needs to be done.  UNICEF, working with Sudan’s National Water Corporation as well as Oxfam, Save the Children, the Red Cross and CARE, is repairing hundreds of handpumps and boring new wells.

One of the most important ways of providing children with a sense of normalcy and stability in a traumatic situation is basic education.  In Darfur, many children lost an entire year of schooling when they fled their villages, making catch-up programmes critical.  Schools in Darfur were very poorly served before the current conflict.  Enrolment rates never approached 100% even in peaceful times, and, in fact, the current emergency offers the first opportunity for many children, especially girls, to attend school. 

In the next three months, UNICEF will support renovation or construction of 158 additional temporary classrooms, and to provide school supplies and teaching materials for another 34,000 children.


 

 

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10 June 2004: Latest video on measles immunization campaign in Darfur.

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4 June 2004: Latest video from Sudan and Chad

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17 May, 2004: Video on the crisis in Sudan and Chad

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