December 12 2006
Conflict breaks out near SOS Children's Village in south Sudan
12/12/2006 - Fighting has broken out in recent weeks in the area surrounding SOS Children's Village Malakal, located in the war-torn southern region of Sudan, where warring factions are mounting strikes against each other with tanks and guns.
Ali Mahdi, director of SOS Children's Villages Sudan, said that although SOS Children's Village Malakal is not likely to become a direct target, it is in close proximity the Malakal airport, one of the areas of heavy fighting. Most of the fighting involves ground troops, and there are currently no air strikes in the vicinity of the children's village. However, there is a threat that some of the fighters may hide or take refuge in the SOS Children's Village, which would make it a direct target for opposing fighters.
Although the security situation in Malakal is worsening, it is not likely that SOS Children's Villages Sudan will evacuate the village and move the children to Khartoum. It would be too difficult to transport the children without compromising their security. Currently, SOS Children's Village Malakal is not facing any severe shortages of essential goods. Mr. Mahdi is very concerned nonetheless.
"The deterioration of the security situation in Malakal is affecting all aspects of life: in markets, shops and schools. The government offices are closed and that means difficulty in getting goods to Malakal," said Mahdi. "We transferred some food to the children's village for storage, and we sent the village director some money to stock up, but we don't know what will happen in the future."
SOS Children's Villages Sudan will provide emergency relief for the local community, such as cholera medication and emergency hospital units for the children's hospital in Malakal. There is already an SOS Emergency Relief Programme in the area, which will be extended with the renewed conflict.
Conflict in Darfur
Conflict has also flared up again in the unstable Darfur region of Sudan. SOS Children's Villages Sudan is currently operating an emergency relief programme in the Abu Shok Refugee Camp in Al-Fashir. The SOS Emergency Relief Programme includes three psycho-social centres that provide counselling and therapy services for all family members, as well as training and awareness sessions for mothers. Ali Mahdi remains cautiously optimistic and reports that even though the situation in Darfur is bleak, it is important that SOS Children’s Villages Sudan continue the project.
With the current conflict, SOS psychologists and social workers have moved out of their residences in the guest house in Al-Fashir, and have found accommodations with co-workers from the area. Communication is very difficult between SOS Children’s Villages in Khartoum and the emergency relief programme in Darfur. The Abu Shok refugee camp is now under curfew in the evening and it is dangerous for anyone to leave the camp.