|© UNICEF Chad/Progida /2004|
|Awa, 16, is in school for the first time. She and her siblings live in the Djabal Refugee Camp.|
N’DJAMENA, Chad, 5 October 2004 – For the past 18 months, thousands of children from the Darfur region of Sudan have sought refuge in Eastern Chad after being driven from their villages.
Many of these children have never been inside a classroom, including Awa, who is 16 years old. Before arriving in Djabal refugee camp, Eastern Chad, she never had the opportunity to go to school.
"I had to work in the field every day. Then the Janjaweed besieged our village. Some of them were bombing us from the top of the surrounding hills, while others chased villagers on the ground. I was running away with my mother, when a bullet hit her from behind,” said Awa.
She escaped from her village with nothing but the clothes on her back. For one week Awa and her elder brother helped their grandmother and her two younger brothers to walk to Chad and cross the border under the cover of darkness.
Awa’s family now lives in the Djabal camp. Both Awa and her brothers are happy to have the opportunity to attend school and learn basic reading and writing skills.
In the Djabal camp there are three schools for the 2,233 primary school children living there. Many of these children are without one or both of their parents, some of whom were murdered, like Awa’s mother, while they were fleeing from militia groups.
|© UNICEF Chad/Progida /2004|
|Many of Darfur’s children have never been to school until now.|
School helps children overcome traumatic experiences
Refugee children suffer as a result of separation from their homes, family members and friends. In addition, many children have witnessed horrendous atrocities that are extremely difficult for any adult or child, to explain or overcome.
UNICEF and its partners believe that educational and recreational activities strongly contribute to helping children overcome traumatic experiences, and are prioritizing the creation of protective and stimulating educational centres for all refugee children.
In the nine refugee camps in Eastern Chad, UNICEF has committed to providing all necessary materials, training and technical support for the creation of friendly spaces for young children, primary school students and adolescents.
UNICEF is also working to deliver 225 tents, thousands of textbooks, notebooks, mats, recreational material and other items children need for comfort and safety.
In addition, UNICEF is also giving special attention to supporting the right to quality education for the hosting Chadian communities. Schools in villages near the camps will also receive educational material over the coming weeks.
Access to quality education will, of course, never replace the love and protection of parents and homes, but it will provide children with knowledge and life skills, which will help them and their families, both now and in times to come.