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Sudan conflict: Calm but concerns for safety persist


Boy at the SOS emergency shelter, Darfur, Sudan

Despite the ceasefire among the warring factions in South Sudan and Darfur, there are still concerns that the conflict may erupt once again. Shortages in medicine and clean water are becoming increasingly acute in the war-torn areas of the African country.

Hotspots in Darfur and the South Sudan are experiencing a lull in the fighting, allowing normal life to return for the local population. Thanks to the ceasefire, SOS Children has been able to re-establish its emergency relief activities in the Abu Shok refugee camp in Al-Fashir, Darfur. Most of the psychologists and social workers have returned to work in the psycho-social centres and patients are again being supported through the three centres in the camp.

The situation in SOS Children's Village Malakal is also stable, but cholera continues to spread at an alarming rate among the local residents, particularly children. Our charity is providing emergency medical assistance in the form of medication for both the children in the SOS Children's Village and those being treated in the local children's hospital.

Most international organisations and NGOs have returned to work in Darfur and Malakal, although some NGOs have not resumed activities in the conflict areas. Airplanes are flying again, but flights to Darfur are less regular than before the conflict and there are currently no scheduled flights to the area of Malakal. Telephone communications are still unstable, and staff at the SOS Children's Villages Sudan in Khartoum rely on satellite telephones to communicate with Darfur and Malakal.

Mr Ali Mahdi, Director of SOS Children in Sudan, said that despite the relative quiet in both Darfur and Malakal, people are still worried and tense about the situation. The charity's staff at the SOS Emergency Relief Centres in Darfur and those at the SOS Children's Village Malakal are afraid of conflict breaking out again. Mr. Mahdi added that the centres in Darfur and the SOS Children's Village in Malakal are suffering from shortages in clean water and medication, some of which are being sent from Khartoum.

During a visit to Darfur on 10 January, Mr Mahdi visited the town of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, where the refugee problem is increasing. To alleviate the situation, SOS Children is now considering establishing an emergency relief programme similar to the one in Abu Shok refugee camp in Al-Fashir.

Relevant Countries: Sudan.

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