Hundreds of primary schoolchildren in Sudan’s volatile West Darfur region no longer have to learn out in the open. Almost 900 pupils go to the primary school in Fasei village. These 500 boys and 400 girls are both Africans and Arabs who work and play together peacefully and have not suffered the pain of being forced from their homes, which has disrupted village life in other parts of Darfur. But local elders had to call for help after the number of schoolchildren grew, forcing some children to study outside under plastic sheeting. Their call was answered by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), which last year agreed to fund the building of new classrooms using environmentally friendly building materials.
Now eight new classrooms built at using stabilized soil blocks, create a stunning looking school building. And the children are delighted with the facility. "I am very happy that the new classes have been built," said 13-year-old Mohamed. But he and others hope that more investment will be poured into education in the region. "Soon I will finish primary school and I will have to go to Zalingei for secondary school," he told the United Nations news service. "I would like to ask for a secondary school to be built in Fasei." "The beauty of this school construction is that it is in an area of mixed [ethnic] groups," said Ken Riebe, a UNHCR protection officer based nearby. "Different tribes live in the area, African and Arab, and all groups are benefitting from the school, thus promoting their peaceful coexistence, meaning that less people are displaced," he added.
More than 2.7 million have fled their homes and now live in camps near Darfur's main towns after a six-year conflict broke out in early 2003, according to United Nations figures. Fighting started after the Sudan Liberation Army and Justice and Equality Movement began attacking government targets, accusing the capital of oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs.The international community was criticised for failing to improve security in Darfur in western Sudan since the deployment of African Union-United Nations peacekeeping troops in 2008. The continuing crisis facing the people of Darfur was highlighted in a 2009 report by human rights campaigners, Amnesty international. The organisatiom called for the joint UN-AU peacekeeping force (to be provided with troops and essential resources, like helicopters, to allow it to do its job.
By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children