March 2 2009

Calm returns to southern Sudan

02/03/2009 - Though the situation in the area of Malakal has stabilised, many still fear that fighting might once more break out at any moment, since the warring parties are still in the area and the reasons that led to the fighting on 25 February remain unresolved.

Photo: SOS Archives
Many of the children in Malakal have seen horrible things - Photo: SOS Archives
The SOS Children's Village Malakal provided shelter for
150 families during the fighting, including 500 adults, mostly women, and 700 children. The guests were put up in various family houses, the activities hall, the guest house and the administration offices and offered an even share of the limited food and water supplies.

The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) provided the village with water and secured medical assistance for all the children who required immediate aid.  SOS Children's Villages Sudan has requested continued support from UNMIS since the problem of shortages is likely to continue despite the end of violence, as the city still lacks electricity, gasoline and water. SOS Children's Villages Sudan has also asked the government to assist the village and supply the neighbouring community with health assistance, food and clothing. SOS Children's Villages Sudan has also promised to send a support team from Khartoum to help children overcome the trauma of the mayhem they have witnessed.

Photo: SOS Archives
The guests were put up in the community hall and all over the village - Photo: SOS Archivos

The Malakal Vocational Training Centre, where some 100 former child soldiers receive assistance and support as part of the child soldiers programme, has not been targeted either and remains closed, like other public and private enterprises in the region. The beneficiaries did not participate in the fighting and are all doing well. Other areas where the programme is running remain inaccessible, but reports confirm that all beneficiaries are fine.

Below is a summary of the kind of support offered to the village by the national office of SOS Children's Villages in Khartoum:  

  • Medical assistance, including distribution of antibiotics.
  • Food distribution and agreement to send more food for storage in case fighting starts again
  • Agreement with the government to guard the village against attacks
  • Guarantees from UNMIS to place the village on the map as one of their protected areas
  • Promise to send the village a large number of SOS flags to underscore the village's identity and protect the co-workers and children in emergencies that force them to leave the village. Our flag is highly respected among all warring groups; during the recent fighting it has protected a mother and her child who were forced to leave the village as the child was extremely ill. The mother decided to risk her life on the road, since her child required immediate hospitalisation. Both the mother and her child are safe and back in the village.