Sudan OCHA bulletin 19: UN marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
To celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Government of Sudan and the United Nations launched the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence in Khartoum on 26 November. This year the overarching theme is “together for Sustainable Protection of Women and Children”. There were activities and engagement at all levels across the country focusing on ending child marriage, girl’s education, access to justice for women, peace and leadership as well as women’s safety and security.
According to the latest bulletin of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan, the campaign was launched with a press conference in Khartoum in which the State Minister of Security and Social Development, the Head of the Federal Unit of Combating Violence Against Women (CVAW) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) addressed press agencies, journalists, television and local radio.
The Director of CVAW unit introduced the theme, messages and major activities that will be carried out by government and partners throughout the campaign. The State Minister of Security and Social Development, affirmed the political support to women and girls in Sudan as highlighted the major initiatives led by the government to support ongoing advocacy efforts to combat violence against women. UNFPA highlighted the role the agency has played on combating violence against women across the country.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute in 1991. It serves to raise awareness and increase momentum towards ending violence against women and girls. More than a third of women worldwide have experienced violence at some point in their lives.
A multisector programme to target the country’s high FGM prevalence
Nine years ago, one community in Sudan decided to follow recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and abandon the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Since then, Tuti Island, a community of 21,000 residents located at the juncture where the White Nile and Blue Nile rivers merge, has been part of the growing movement to end FGM.
Today, more than 1,000 communities in Sudan have abandoned the practice which has no health benefits and continues to violate the human rights of 200 million women and girls in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Five years ago, WHO, joined the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) and UNFPA programme in supporting the Government of Sudan’s call for a “Sudan Free From Female Genital Cutting”. As part of the programme—funded by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Department for International Development (DFID)—WHO has been working to strengthen the health sector’s response to FGM by halting “medicalization” – when the practice is performed by midwives and other healthcare providers.
“FGM is a human rights violation breaching the health profession’s code of ethics to ‘do no harm’. WHO and partner UN agencies are opposed to the medicalization of FGM,” says Dr Naeema Al-Gaseer, WHO Country Representative for Sudan.
Working with the Sudan Ministry of Health, midwifery schools, and health professional associations and regulatory bodies, WHO is ensuring health professionals adhere to the recommendations laid out in its Global strategy to stop health-care providers from performing female genital mutilation.
Sudanese refugees voluntarily return from Chad
A total of 487 Sudanese refugees were assisted to return from Chad since 22 November 2018. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Governments of Sudan and Chad resumed the repatriation of Sudanese refugees from Chad following the end of the rainy season, with 62 families (about 185 people) assisted to return voluntarily on 22 November. Since the start of the repatriation process in April 2018, the Sudanese refugee returnees from Chad were received at the Tina reception centre in North Darfur. However, a new reception centre was opened in Foro Barunga, West Darfur to receive returnees from the Goz Beida region in Chad. On 29 November, 302 Sudanese refugees arrived at this new reception centre where they were provided with hot meals and a return package including, shelter materials, and three-month food rations provided by the World Food Programme (WFP). The returnees were assisted to return to their villages of origin in various Darfur states.
UNHCR is working with various organizations including the African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Voluntary Return and Reintegration Commission (VRRC), and line ministries, to mobilize support for further reintegration assistance for the returnees, including enhancing basic services in return areas.
In May 2017, UNHCR and the Governments of Sudan and Chad signed a Tripartite Agreement which provides the basis for the voluntary return programme. By end 2018, UNHCR and the Governments of Sudan and Chad plan to assist up to 1,500 additional Sudanese refugees to return from Chad.
So far, a total of 840 people have returned from Chad since the start of the repatriation on 14 April 2018. UNHCR and Sudan’s Commission for Refugees (COR) will continue to receive Sudanese refugee returnees from Chad in these two reception centres.
Ethiopians, who took temporary refuge in Sudan, assisted to return home
UNHCR and COR assisted about 1,100 Ethiopian civilians—who fled to Gedaref State in eastern Sudan in the wake of inter-communal clashes in Ethiopia in November—to return home. Since their arrival in Sudan, they had been hosted in UNHCR’s reception centre in Gallabat locality and Al-Farza school in Basunda locality, where they received emergency assistance by local authorities, COR and UNHCR.
The returnees included 683 people who were assisted to return to a Tigray majority region in Ethiopia via the Lugdi crossing point and another 378 people, who were assisted to return to Ethiopia through Gallabat-Mattama crossing on 25 November, following reassurances from the Counsel General of Ethiopia in Gedaref State of a stable situation back home. Seven Ethiopians expressed their intention to seek asylum in Sudan and were transported to the Shargrab refugee camp.
While in Sudan, the refugees received humanitarian assistance. COR, UNHCR and UNICEF were part of the inter-agency mission on 13 November that assessed needs and provided emergency assistance to the new arrivals. Emergency assistance included the provision of non-food items (UNHCR); water containers; 30 emergency latrines; BP-5 compact food (UNICEF); food rations for 15 days (WFP); and essential medicine and healthcare assistance (WHO and Ministry of Health).
In addition to the Ethiopian arrivals, about 100 Eritreans also came to Sudan from Ethiopia. The Eritreans were transported to Shagrab refugee camp in order to go through the screening, registration and refugee status determination (RSD) procedures.
Education assistance benefits both South Sudanese refugee and host communities
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has been providing South Sudanese refugee and host communities with education assistance. In East Darfur’s Al Nimir camp, the enrolment of refugee children at primary schools increased by 11 per cent in October, with 85 per cent of primary-school aged children in the camp now enrolled in school, reports UNHCR in their latest report. This is the highest enrolment rate in East Darfur, however, an estimated 75 per cent of all primary-school aged refugee children in the state are out of school, with enrolment rates lowest in out-of-camp locations.
To address the issue of low enrolment rates in out-of-camp locations, accelerated learning programmes (ALPs) have been initiated in three refugee settlements in Adila and Abu Karinka localities, with 912 students enrolled so far. The increase in school enrolment for refugees in Adila and Abu Karinka is 50 and 41 per cent respectively, up from nearly zero before classes began. Enrolment is expected to increase after the harvest season when families return back to the settlements with their children. Classes are taught in temporary learning spaces constructed by UNHCR, and students use school supplies and textbooks provided by UNICEF, with logistical support from COR and technical support from the State Ministry of Education (SMoE). The national NGO Global Aid Hand (GAH) is providing teachers’ incentives, with support from UNCHR. The International NGO United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) will construct four schools in Adila and Abu Karinka locality, with funding from the Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF), which will further enhance access to quality education for both refugee and host communities.
In South Kordofan, the national NGO Alsalam Organization for Rehabilitation and Development (AORD) began the construction of eight semi-permanent classrooms in five schools in El Nuhud locality to accommodate 720 students from both the refugee and host communities. The project is funded through the Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF). At the end of the 2017/2018 school year, over 70 per cent of primary-school aged refugee children in the state were out of school. AORD is also training local teachers and parent association groups to mobilize communities on the importance of girls’ school enrolment. Despite this progress, just 41 per cent of the South Sudanese refugee children are enrolled in schools.
WHO steps up efforts to establish Community Based Surveillance in Sudan
With the aim to improve the local health system in Sudan, WHO and Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) organized a two-day national training of trainers (ToT) workshop in Khartoum to launch the roll out of community-based surveillance (CBS) in Sudan. The system will target 10 states covering more than 7,100 villages in rural, inaccessible and remote areas to assist in the early detection of and timely response to common public health threats and suspected communicable diseases.
The workshop was attended by 48 staff from the surveillance departments in the federal and state ministries of health and focused on building their capacity to establish community-based surveillance systems in their respective states by selecting appropriate village level community volunteers. The training also addressed issues relating to the national surveillance system for communicable diseases, in addition to identifying 26 reprioritized diseases and syndromes.
“This is the first time WHO and the FMoH have undertaken joint efforts to establish Community-Based Surveillance in 10 states with the ultimate goal to strengthen community and locality level surveillance system by local volunteers,” said Dr. Naeema Al Gasseer, WHO Representative in Sudan. The system will empower communities to detect rapid public health threats and contain them in proper time.
Although sentinel sites cover almost all 189 localities in Sudan, less than 30 per cent of health facilities are accommodated through the existing surveillance system. Health workers in a number of states have identified inequality of access to health service. Populations with limited to no access to health facilities remain unaware of the implications of health emergencies and threatening potential outbreaks in the community.
Sudan is prone to outbreaks and epidemics. To date, WHO and the FMoH have taken steps towards Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response system (IDSR) in terms of disease reprioritization and re-categorization.
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