“Relief efforts have significantly improved the overall situation in Darfur since 2004, but persistent instability and political stalemate means that children have little hope for any meaningful future,” UNICEF country representative Ted Chaiban said of the three-year conflict between Government, paramilitary and rebel forces which has killed tens of thousands and forced 2 million to flee their homes.
The report, Child Alert Darfur, shows that an estimated 1.75 million children in displaced persons camps and surrounding towns in Sudan’s western Darfur, an area the size of France, now have basic social services, largely as a result of humanitarian aid, despite continuing insecurity that plagues their daily lives.
In these camps, mortality rates have fallen below the emergency threshold at 0.79 deaths per 10,000 children per day and malnutrition rates have dropped from 21.8 per cent to 11.9 per cent. But an estimated 1.25 million children remain who cannot be reached because of insecurity and their situation remains largely unknown.
“Darfur’s children deserve the same dividends of peace which children affected by Sudan’s North-South conflict are beginning to see,” Mr. Chaiban said, referring to the peace accord that ended a separate two-decade-long war in the south of Africa’s largest country.
“Success in Abuja is the cornerstone for achieving these dividends,” he added of the Darfur peace talks currently going on in the Nigerian capital.
Key findings of the report include:
The economy of Darfur is in steep decline, creating and reinforcing a reliance on humanitarian aid.
As a result, conditions are worsening for children who live in areas outside the camps, in communities hitherto not directly affected by the fighting.
Low-level violence continues unabated almost daily, creating a climate of fear and further crippling core economic activities.
Darfur has become “ghettoed,” with groups from all tribes afraid to move beyond their immediate environments
“The parties involved in the 7th round of Peace Talks in Abuja have to find real political solutions to this conflict,” UNICEF said. “The time is now otherwise the current stalemate will persist in Darfur.”
The report is the first of a series on children in countries-in-crisis, where it is traditionally difficult to raise attention. The aim is to convey the core problems facing children in these countries at a particular point of time.
The Child Alert seeks to serve as a landmark, examining the potent and persistent mix of ongoing fighting, insecurity, drought, crop failure and economic collapse that threatens the youngsters.