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UNICEF Executive Director sees peace bringing progress for girls in Southern Sudan

© UNICEF/HQ07-1608/Cranston
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman is greeted by pupils from Bandar Girls’ Primary School at Malakal airport in Southern Sudan.

By Amor Almagro

MALAKAL, Southern Sudan, 2 November 2007 – On her first trip to Sudan, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman is seeing firsthand some of the benefits to children of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the country’s long civil war in 2005.

Today in Malakal, Ms. Veneman visited Bandar Girls’ Primary School. Established in 1943, the school has been supported by UNICEF in recent years under the ‘Go to School’ initiative led by the Government of Southern Sudan. In 2006 UNICEF rehabilitated sections of the school, which has 885 students – although a number of classrooms still have mud walls.

Groups of singing children welcomed Ms. Veneman to Bandar, underlining the enormous importance placed upon education by local communities in Southern Sudan. The Go to School campaign has already delivered notable results for children – especially girls – with its focus on improving access, providing school supplies and training teachers.

© UNICEF/HQ07-1610/Cranston
During her visit to Bandar Girls’ Primary School in Malakal, Southern Sudan, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman greets a class.

Committed to long-term development

Speaking on the first day of her visit, Ms. Veneman said she was pleased to see children going to school, many for the first time in their lives, but she noted that there is still a shortage of classrooms and a lack of qualified teachers. She also expressed great concern that the illiteracy rate amongst women in Southern Sudan stands at an estimated 98 per cent.

Recognizing the work that must still be done, Ms. Veneman met later in the day with senior government officials and development leaders to discuss ways of accelerating progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals here.

In a meeting with the Vice-President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Ms. Veneman assured His Excellency Riek Machar of UNICEF’s full commitment to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the long-term development of Southern Sudan.




2 November 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Bismarck Swangin reports on Executive Director Ann M. Veneman’s first trip to Southern Sudan.
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