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Goodwill Ambassador Johann Koss visits camps for displaced families in Sudan

© UNICEF video
During his visit to Sudan, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Johann Koss visited the El Fateh 3 camp near Khartoum to highlight the situation of displaced families.
By Roshan Khadivi and Sabine Dolan

EL FATEH CAMP, Sudan, 2 May 2006 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Olympic speed-skating champion Johann Koss is visiting Sudan to highlight the difficult situation of children living in camps for displaced families.

The four-time Olympic Gold Medal winner from Norway spent time at the El Fateh camp on the outskirts of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. The camp is composed of three areas, with El Fateh 3 housing the most recently relocated families.

The crude huts that dot the camp’s arid landscape are home to more than 100,000 displaced people – with some estimates placing the population much higher. At least 18,000 of them are children under the age of five.

“It’s very emotional for me to be here and to see the lives of these children,” said Mr. Koss. “Basically they have nothing. There is no school, there is no health and there is very little care of the children in this community.”

The most vulnerable families

Due to years of conflict and drought in Sudan, an estimated 2 million displaced people are living in camps similar to El Fateh. Having been driven off their land, they now depend on food aid. But a lack of donor funding is hampering humanitarian efforts, and the response to the needs of internally displaced families has been uneven.

Many relief agencies and non-governmental organizations have been pulling out due to the shortfall in funding as well as pressure from some local officials. UNICEF and its partners continue to provide food, water and medicine to support displaced families in Sudan – who are among the most vulnerable in the world.

© UNICEF video
Due to years of conflict and drought in Sudan, an estimated 2 million displaced people are living in camps like El Fateh, where Johann Koss met this child.
“We have to increase the number of health clinics and nurses so they can be treated for very preventable diseases, so they can survive,” said Mr. Koss.

‘Time for us to act’

During his visit, Mr. Koss met with community leaders and children. Many voiced concern about their uncertain future while living in relocation areas where they endure limited access to water and basic services.

Mr. Koss was also briefed on a joint UNICEF and Save the Children UK assessment of child protection issues and children’s rights. The study provided a clearer picture of the situation of newly displaced children in Khartoum.
“The time for us to act is now, before it is too late" said Mr. Koss, "These children should be protected and have access to a good education, better living conditions and sanitation."

The trip by Mr. Koss, which started on 30 April, will conclude on 4 May. The trip by Mr. Koss, which started on 30 April, will conclude on 4 May. He is currently visiting water points, schools and clinics in Southern Sudan. 

Appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1994, Mr. Koss also serves as President and CEO of Right to Play, an athlete-driven international humanitarian organization that uses sport as a tool for the development of children and youth in the world’s most disadvantaged areas.




2 May 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Sabine Dolan reports on UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Johann Koss’ visit to camps for displaced families near Khartoum.

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