March 18 2011

Psychological support for children in South Sudan

18/03/2011 – In mid March, all children and staff from the SOS Children's Village Malakal had to be evacuated due to heavy fighting on the village grounds between rebels and government troops. They are still staying at a hotel in Malakal while the cleaning of the SOS Children’s Village is carried out with the help of the UN Mission in Sudan. The SOS staff is helping the children to cope with the trauma.

Village director, Mr. Alwock Dok was finally able to enter the village on 16 March together with the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). The Cambodian led demining agency of UNMIS inspects and clears the village premises from the remains of the recent events. Two family houses are inhabitable as a result of the fighting in and around. Some families’ belongings disappeared and others were burnt. The estimation of the renovation costs of the two family houses started with the UNMIS and the Ministry of Social Planning.

Psychological support for the children

Although all the 103 children are safe at the hotel with their SOS mothers and the village staff, the psychological unit of SOS Children’s Village Malakal started checks for any post-traumatic stress syndrome of children. “Whilst many children sadly had previous experiences of being caught in the middle of violence before”, said Alwock Dok, “we want to prevent further emotional suffering and any serious psychological illness as a result of what they have had to live through last Saturday.”

Once again, Malakal town returned to normal with most shops reopening. Attackers were dislodged from Malakal and chased towards northern Upper Nile. At least 49 people are reported to have been killed and 14 others injured in this armed confrontation.

Serious concerns about suspension of talks between North and South Sudan

As the geographical range of security threats widens, the situation is very tense as the South Sudanese walked out of the negotiation table with the north over the week-end due to these recent fighting. The United States, Britain and Norway, who formed a troika to support the 2005 accord, issued a joint statement on 16 March saying they were seriously concerned about the suspension of talks on preparations for the secession, with South Sudan due to get international recognition in less than four months.