UNICEF steps up its response as more families flee fighting in South Kordofan
© UNICEF Sudan/2012
Recent polio campaign in Kadugli, South Kordofan
Khartoum, 19 March 2012 - The return of UNICEF international staff to South Kordofan is boosting the agency’s capacity to meet the needs of increasing numbers of people who are fleeing fighting in the state.
Hundreds of newly displaced people are reported to have arrived in and around the state capital, Kadugli, over the last month from areas affected by fighting between government and SPLM-N forces. This has led to increasing humanitarian needs.
Fighting broke out in the border state in June last year in the run up to the independence of South Sudan on 9 July. Having barred their return for several months, the government gave permission for some UN international staff to return in late January (see side bar story).
Over two thousand people have sought refuge, mainly around Kadugli, over the last month. Other displacements have been confirmed in the east. To date, the UN estimates that 300,000 people have been either displaced or severely affected by the current conflict.
Children make up a large proportion of the newly displaced population, including children who have been separated from their families or are unaccompanied. In response to this, UNICEF is working with its partners to create a single database with the aim of eventually reunifying children with their families. This covers children whose families may be in non-government controlled areas, as well as in South Sudan.
Since the conflict erupted, UNICEF and its partners have supported the reunification of 698 unaccompanied and separated children.Since the conflict erupted, UNICEF and its partners have supported the reunification of 698 unaccompanied and separated children.
The increase in Kadugli’s child population has led to a shortage of classroom space, with the result that many of the displaced children are not attending school. To help resolve this, UNICEF is helping set up 55 emergency low cost classrooms. UNICEF is also supporting the Ministry of Education in a plan to open schools during the summer break so that displaced children can catch up with the education they’ve missed.
Other families do not send their children to school because they lack clothing. In response to this UNICEF has arranged with Save the Children Sweden to provide them clothing. Last week, it also provided plastic sheets and sleeping mats for 2,248 people.
UNICEF is working with its partners to improve the poor sanitation conditions faced by many displaced people in Kadugli, in collaboration with the government, Sudanese Red Crescent and Nimiad. Emergency latrines have been planned for five locations in the town.
Since the beginning of the year, UNICEF has supported the rehabilitation of hand pumps to provide safe drinking water for the displaced population, and distributed jerry cans and soap.
Elsewhere in South Kordofan, UNICEF helped provide 1,500 displaced people with safe drinking water though the drilling and installation of five handpumps.
With malnutrition levels among children a growing concern, UNICEF is expanding its intervention with different partners - Save the Children, Care International Switzerland, Almanar - to reach 32 outpatient therapeutic centres in 13 out of 19 localities. Since February over 13,000 children have been screened, and some 900 children admitted into the nutrition therapeutic feeding centres.