Inflammation and stories on Sudan

10 Facts About the Sudan Genocide
The grave human rights abuses and mass slaughter in Darfur, West Sudan between 2003-2008 was the first genocide of the 21st century. The Sudanese government and the Janjaweed (government-funded and armed Arab militias) targeted civilians, burned villages and committed many more atrocities. Below are 10 facts about the Sudan genocide.

10 Facts About the Sudan Genocide

  1. The long term causes of the Sudan genocide stem from the two prolonged civil wars between the North, that promoted Arabisation and a Middle-Eastern culture, and the South, that preferred an African identity and culture. The First Sudanese Civil War began in 1955 and ended in 1972 with a peace treaty. Eventually, unsettled issues reignited into the Second Sudanese Civil War in 1983 and lasted until 2005, however. Both civil wars occurred due to the southern Sudanese rebels’ demands for regional autonomy and the northern Sudanese government’s refusal to grant it.
  2. The direct cause of the genocide during the Second Sudanese Civil War revolves around allegations that the government armed and funded the Janjaweed against non-Arabs. This supposedly led to the southern rebel groups, the Sudan Liberian Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, attacking a Sudanese Air Force base in Darfur in 2003. The government countered with widespread violent campaigns targeting non-Arabs and southern Sudanese civilians, which turned into genocidal campaigns.
  3. The United Nations estimated that the attacks killed at least 300,000 people and led to the displacement of 2.6 million people. Of that number, 200,000 fled and found refuge in Chad, which neighbors Sudan to the west. Most of the internally displaced people (IDP) settled in the Darfur region, which counts 66 camps. According to a UN report, the lack of law enforcement and judicial institutions in these areas generated human rights violations and abuses, including sexual violence and criminal acts of vulnerable IDPs.
  4. The government and militia conducted “ethnic cleansing” campaigns, committing massive atrocities. They targeted women and girls, deliberately using rape and sexual violence to terrorize the population, perpetuate its displacement and increase their exposure to HIV/AIDS. The government and militia conducted ‘scorched-earth campaigns’ where they burned hundreds of villages and destroyed infrastructures such as water sources and crops, resulting in the dramatic famine. These acts are all war crimes that still prevent IDPs from returning to their homes.
  5. In 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened investigations regarding the alleged genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan, which produced several cases that are still under investigation due to the lack of cooperation from the Sudanese government. The ICC dealt with the genocide in Darfur, the first genocide it worked on and the first time the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) referred to the ICC.
  6. A military coup in April 2019 overthrew the former President of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, allowing the country to secure justice and address the wrongs committed between 2003-2008. Indeed, the prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, urges the UN Security Council to extend the UNAMID’s peacekeeping mission to 12 months and the new government of Sudan to transfer Omar Al Bashir and two other war criminals to the ICC.
  7. Omar Al Bashir was the first sitting President that the ICC wanted (it issued the first arrest warrant in March 2009 and the second in July 2010) and the first example of the ICC incriminating a person for the crime of genocide. However, the ICC still cannot move forward with the trial until Omar Al Bashir receives arrest and becomes present at the ICC (in The Hague).
  8. The UNSC created and sent the peacekeeping force UNAMID (composed of the United Nations and the African Union) to Darfur in 2007, which operates to this day. The mission deployed almost 4,000 military personnel to protect civilians threatened by violence, especially in displacement areas and on the border with Chad. In addition, UNAMID facilitated humanitarian assistance by protecting and helping in the transportation of aid to isolated areas and providing security for humanitarian workers. The UN decided to extend the mandate of the UNAMID until October 31, 2019.
  9. Although the fighting stopped, there is still a crisis in Sudan; the UN estimates that 5.7 million people in Sudan require humanitarian support and can barely meet their basic food needs. There are many NGOs actively working to provide aid, such as Water for South Sudan, that works to ensure access to clean water to rural and remote areas, and the Red Cross, that provides medical care across the country due to its collapsed public health care system. Despite these efforts, there is still an unmet funding requirement of 46 percent in humanitarian aid as of 2018.
  10. In September 2019, a new government established with a power-sharing agreement between the military, civilian representatives and protest groups. According to Human Rights Watch, Sudan’s new government should ensure justice and accountability for past abuses. Moreover, the constitutional charter (signed in Aug. 2019) entails major legal and institutional reforms, focused on holding the perpetrators accountable for the crimes committed under al-Bashir’s rule, as well as eliminating government repression and ongoing gender discrimination.

These are just 10 facts about the Sudan Genocide which are essential to understanding the current events happening in Sudan. Despite the peak of violence in Sudan in 2019 which killed hundreds of protestors, the country finally has a new government and it seems willing to right the wrongs committed during the genocide. The new prime minister Abdullah Adam Hamdok expressed in front of the UN in September 2019: “The ‘great revolution’ of Sudan has succeeded and the Government and people and will now rebuild and restore the values of human coexistence and social cohesion in the country as they try and turn the page on three decades of abhorrent oppression, discrimination and warfare.”

– Andrea Duleux
Photo: Flickr

education in south sudan

South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, faces a bevy of challenges. A long civil war within the previously integrated Sudan and an onslaught of recent conflicts in the newly independent country of South Sudan have resulted in years of instability, undermining education there. Geographical and gender-based issues also pose threats to learning, but the government and NGOs are working hard to create a better system. Here are eight facts about education in South Sudan.

8 Facts about Education in South Sudan

  1. In South Sudan, 51 percent of  children are out of school. There are 400,000 children out of school due to chronic insecurity and displacement, while another 13,000 are absorbed in the country’s protracted conflicts. This high rate fits within a broader pattern: children in conflict-affected countries are much more likely to miss out on educational opportunities than their peers in other countries. With homes destroyed and families lost, the long-term endeavor of schooling becomes an impractical afterthought.
  2. Many school buildings have been decimated. In 2013, tensions between two major politicians spurred fighting between the Dinka and Nuer ethnic tribes. Thousands were killed and more than two million were displaced during the two-year civil war that followed. In the midst of this, 800 school buildings were destroyed. While 6,000 remained usable, almost all of them were stripped of vital educational resources and infrastructure. “[A]nywhere else, they wouldn’t be called schools. It’s basically a tree and a blackboard,” UNICEF’s chief of education in South Sudan told NPR in 2016.
  3. With a five percent net enrollment rate, very few school-aged children attain a secondary education in South Sudan. Part of the problem lies in the limited number of schools: only 120 secondary buildings remain standing in the entire country, according to the Global Partnership for Education.
  4. Educational inequalities persist along rural and urban lines. For one, all 120 secondary schools are in South Sudan’s towns. Students from rural regions who want to obtain a secondary education must take on high transportation costs, which prevent some students from even trying. This challenge compounds upon others. Many rural South Sudanese families engage in cattle-keeping, for example, which forces school-aged children to migrate according to seasonal variations and economic pressures.
  5. Girls’ education is on the rise but requires more work. While more boys obtain an education in South Sudan than girls, this gap narrowed slightly since 2013. One organization making headways in this area is Project Education South Sudan (PESS), which has sponsored many scholarships that help South Sudanese girls attend better-resourced schools. PESS has also established grinding mills in villages close to schools, which frees girls from the manual task of grinding grain.
  6. In 2012, South Sudan’s government, in partnership with several NGOs, established the General Education Strategic Plan (GESP). The GESP increased the number of alternative education systems in the country, targeting problem areas like adult illiteracy. However, the plan fell short in many respects: on-the-ground implementation efforts were limited and money transfers to local governments were not well-coordinated.
  7. The Ministry of General Education and Instruction in South Sudan developed a new GESP for the years 2017-2022. This plan takes into account some of the shortcomings of the previous one. For example, it establishes a school inspection framework and specifies personnel roles at the local level to ensure the effective implementation of funding. Moreover, the plan provides money to reopen conflict-affected schools and create temporary school structures while permanent buildings are built.
  8. The opposing political groups who sparked the 2013 conflict signed a peace deal in September of 2018. Among other things, this deal allowed UNICEF to provide educational resources in previously blocked-off parts of the country. As a result, the organization is likely to pass its goal of enrolling 729,000 new children during 2019.

Conflict and complex political geography combine to undermine education in South Sudan, but the weight of both pressures is gradually lifting. This spells a promising future for South Sudan. Besides being instrumental for healthy living and economic prosperity, education is also a key to future peace. As the South Sudan government and NGOs continue to strengthen the education system, stability will hopefully follow.

– James Delegal
Photo: Flickr

Despite legislative changes, education in Sudan continues to face challenges, especially in the midst of conflict and instability. The major obstacles faced in terms of education derive from poverty, refugee status and gender inequality. Keep reading to learn the top seven facts about education in Sudan.

Top 7 Facts about Education in Sudan

  1. Sudan currently has one of the biggest numbers of out-of-school children in the Middle East and North Africa region. UNICEF estimates that more than 3 million children between the ages of 5 and 13 are not attending school. In addition, though primary school enrollment stands at 76 percent, secondary school enrollment is only 28 percent. Nearly 3 million 5 to 13-year-old children are not enrolled in school.
  2. Sudan has a large number of unqualified teachers working in schools across the country. The Ministry of Education reports that 3,692 out of 7,315 of teachers in South and East Darfur are not properly trained nor sufficiently supervised.
  3. The illiteracy rate in Sudan stood at 50 percent for women and 30 percent for men in 2016. However, overall illiteracy has since dropped to 24 percent.
  4. Women and girls face major barriers to education. An estimated 49 percent of girls in Sudan do not attend school. Women are not protected against discrimination in classrooms, which subjects them to fewer opportunities and maltreatment. Sudanese society also adheres to gender norms that women only belong in the house to care for children and undertake domestic responsibilities. These stereotypes have affected women’s access to higher education because they are typically culturally bound to domestic and maternal duties.
  5. Sudan has worked toward major education reform in the past. Education in Sudan is free by law, however, many schools and universities charge extortionate fees throughout the school year, making schools too costly for children below the poverty line. Furthermore, the quality of education suffers due to the lack of government funding. In 2017, less than 1 percent of public spending went toward education in Sudan.
  6. Many children in Sudan who need education are refugees from other countries. Sudan hosts large numbers of refugees from Eritrea, Syria, Yemen, Chad and South Sudan. As of February 2019, more than 1 million refugees and asylum seekers were displaced in Sudan. An estimated 24 percent of them were of primary school age (6-13) and 9 percent were of secondary school age (14-17). The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and Educate a Child have teamed up to provide quality primary education to Sudanese refugees. Programs offered by the organizations include teacher training, provision of learning materials and construction/rehabilitation of classrooms. In 2016, 17,371 students were supplied with stationery kits, 763 students were enrolled in accelerated learning programs and 12 student committees were developed.
  7. Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is another nonprofit working in Sudan to strengthen the education system. The GPE aims to improve access to textbooks, quality of the academic environment and overall strengthen the institutional capacity of the education system. The GPE has allocated more than $76 million toward building 2,000 classrooms across the country, providing grants to 750 schools, distributing over 6 million textbooks and establishing teacher monitoring.

Despite the challenges presented by these facts about education in Sudan, various organizations have already begun to work toward developing a better and more effective education system in Sudan. As Sudan undergoes slow recovery from decades of conflict and instability, education becomes a priority and a necessity to recuperate. In the coming years, Sudan may see more progress toward a more inclusive education system if stability grows and increased opportunities arise for minorities such as girls and refugees.

Louise Macaraniag
Photo: Flickr

Internet Blackout in SudanSudan has been rocked by protests after ousting President Omar al-Bashir in April, who was in power for 30 years. Now under the control of the Transitional Military Council, the internet blackout in Sudan has swept the country while peaceful protestors demand a transition to a democratic civilian government, which has turned deadly.

One-hundred people were killed by government militia, the Rapid Support Forces, during a sit-in protest in early June. Seven more were killed and 181 injured in the biggest protest since at a commemoration event for those who died earlier the same month in Khartoum.

Between 2010 and 2018, internet freedom has declined across the globe. China, Iran, Thailand and Tunisia have a history of blocking news outlets and social networking sites during times of conflict. In addition, although it is a democracy, India has the highest number of internet shutdowns than anywhere in the world.

The problem in Sudan, however, mirrors the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, which remained under the rule of Hosni Mubarak for 30 years. Egypt and Sudan faced internet blackouts in an attempt to silence protestors and hide human rights violations. Despite their attempts, both countries have shown ways of overcoming internet oppression.

African journalist, Zeinab Mohammed Salih, told BBC News that most protests in Sudan are held at night in the suburbs, neighboring cities and small streets, but when more people hear about them, the bigger the protests become. Despite the lack of internet freedom, the latest Khartoum protest is proof of the growing opposition.

How to Bypass the Internet Blackout in Sudan

  1. Neighborhood Committees: Neighborhood committees are spread throughout different districts in the state of Khartoum. In the Omdurman district, just northwest of Khartoum city, four committees consist of almost 60 households. Originally, committees planned the routes of protest marches, but now they are working to share information and provide support and safety to those in need. In the Bahri district, they built barricades just days after the sit-in protest, and in Omdurman, 300 people protested as militia soldiers patrolled Khartoum city.
  2. Phone and Landlines Reign Supreme: When the internet is shut down, phone and landlines become the keys to connecting to the outside world. Although protestors have forwarded the information by SMS text over the cellular network instead of the internet, others find that their texts are not always delivered. In order to bypass the internet blackout in Egypt, several international internet service providers offered dial-up access to the internet, which connects users to phone lines.  Although the connection is slow, it works. When Salih, an African journalist, failed to text her articles to a news outlet in London, she tried to reach a landline at a hotel in Khartoum but struggled to get around the barricades protestors had made, forcing her and others to walk. The internet in Sudan is only accessible through telephone lines or fiber optic cables, although the connection is not so reliable. Despite this, men, women, whether they are protestors or not, crowd mobile shops and cyber cafes in Khartoum.
  3. Peer-to-Peer Network: Adam Fisk is the creator of the free open-source censorship circumvention tool Lantern. The program gives anyone’s computer the ability to become a server by sharing its internet connection with those without it. Those in censored regions can choose who they want to add and shift their traffic through, and the tool bypasses any blocks to Google, Facebook and Twitter. In 2013, the Chinese government blocked the program after the number of users rose to more than 10,000, but the program does not provide anonymity. Fisk recommends Tor to remain anonymous, another tool that encrypts traffic and sends it around the world, masking the user’s actual location and making them harder to track.
  4. Innovation for the Future: After the Egyptian Revolution, innovators like Fisk are still trying to create tools to circumvent future government-mandated shutdowns. Bre Pettis is one of them. The goal is to create quick and reliable chats on a local network so users can communicate without internet access in an emergency situation.

According to Haj-Omar, what Sudan needs to achieve freedom and uphold human rights is more attention from the international community, even though the internet blackout makes it easier for the Sudan government to conceal these issues. The internet blackout in Egypt robbed the Egyptian people of freedom, only inspiring more to take to the streets. Sudan can learn and grow from Egypt’s past.

– Emma Uk
Photo: Flickr

Sudan's Vulnerable Position in MENA Politics

People, cameras and everything in between are paying close attention to Sudan’s vulnerable position in MENA Politics. This past month, the political crisis in Sudan has received worldwide attention. For example, internet users implemented blue social media avatars commemorating fallen Sudanese activist Mohamed Mattar.  The conflict exists between Sudanese democracy advocates and the Transitional Military Council (TMC) currently governing the country, following the ousting of Omar Al-Bashir. However, it is important to understand just what is keeping Sudan and innocent civilians from moving forward with a more egalitarian society. Here are five facts about Sudan’s vulnerable position in MENA Politics.

  1. Sudan has a claim to mineral-rich areas of the Red Sea.
    The majority of Sudan’s geography is rich in minerals and natural gas. In 2011, when the two countries became independent, this was left with South Sudan. A crucial 7,945 square miles of land, known as the Halayeb Triangle, is still within Sudanese land claims.
    This region has a coastline on the Red Sea, a location seemingly ideal for new oil exploration ventures. But, it’s not Sudanese efforts that have jumped on this opportunity. This leads to the next fact about Sudan’s vulnerable position in MENA politics.
  2. Egypt claims the same area and has made power plays to extrapolate resources.
    Following Sudan’s independence from colonialism in 1956, Egypt has been in conflict with Sudan. The conflict is over which country has a right and full claim to the land and all its potential as a natural resource for either country’s economy.
    In March of this year, The Arab Weekly reports that Egyptian state-sponsored South Valley Egyptian Petroleum Holding Company has invited up to ten separate oil and gas exploration bids to the very same Halayeb region. The report claims that the area surrounding is “Egyptian territorial waters.”
    The same article quotes a statement by Sudan’s Foreign Ministry: “The Foreign Ministry summoned Egyptian Ambassador Hossam Eissa… to protest against the tenders invited by the Egyptian Oil Ministry for areas under the sovereignty of Sudan.” The Sudanese Oil and Gas Minister of State called it “a direct intrusion” of both the country’s right to issue exploration licenses to that region. Sudanese officials claim the Halayeb region has been the sovereign territory of Sudan since 1956, the country’s year of independence.
  3. The Gulf Nations plan to support the militia government of Sudan.
    On June 20, 2019, the Council on Foreign Relations wrote that countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are putting their support behind the Transitional Military Council in Sudan. These two countries have pledged $3 billion in aid for the TMC to disperse to civilians in the form of food, water and medicine.
    The International Crisis Group finds this political and economic move to be simply another example of something common among Gulf states. That is, moving “from one military regime to another.”
    This fact about Sudan’s vulnerable position in MENA Politics focuses on a continued disenfranchisement of Sudanese civilians even after the authoritarian president Omar Al-Bashir was forced out of office. These Gulf Nations’ support of the military government is not in accordance with the wants of Sudanese civilians.
  4. A remnant of the Al-Bashir era is sympathetic to Saudi Arabian efforts in Sudan.
    Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (known as Hemeti) was a close political aide to Omar al-Bashir before the military coup. He has now outwardly shown his appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s and the UAE’s contribution to Sudan’s military-governmental complex. He showed this by meeting with Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and vowing to support Riyadh against “all threats and attacks” by the country’s political opponents for power in the Middle East.
  5. Hemeti still controls Sudanese military activity.
    As Hemeti is a representative of the military presence that currently governs Sudan. His commanding activity must also be taken into account to better understand the conflict and protests of earlier this June.
    Hemeti is the commander of the Rapid Support Forces, a militia group that grew from Sudan’s Janjaweed presence. The Janjaweed (or “devils on horseback” in a Sudanese colloquial language) were also under Hemeti’s supervision. They are widely acknowledged as responsible for the genocidal crimes against humanity of 2005 in the Sudanese region of Darfur.
    Civilians no longer appreciate this modern-day reincarnation of an overbearing militia. One activist, Hajooj Kuka, stated: “We do not want to move forward with the RSF as part of the Sudanese army. At this point, we have totally lost trust in them.”
    The Rapid Support Forces are also responsible for the fast publicized retaliation to civil protests on June 3, 2019.  Around 100 Sudanese Activists died during and after this crisis. This occurred on what would have been a festive Eid al-Fitr, or the end of Ramadan.

How to Help

Overall, these five facts about Sudan’s vulnerable position in MENA politics show how Middle Eastern powerhouses are hoping to take control of Sudanese land and government for personal gain. They are doing this without the interest of Sudanese civilians at heart.

While it may be difficult to address this misrepresentation directly, Bustle outlines that there are simple ways to help show the inequity Sudanese people are experiencing regularly.  Individuals around the world can:

  • Support Humanitarian Programs – UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore stated that “Children throughout Sudan are already bearing the brunt of decades of conflict, chronic underdevelopment, and poor governance.” To address this, UNICEF has begun transporting ready-to-eat therapeutic food and necessary medicine to improve the quality of life for children in Sudan under the age of five. The funding through June 12 sent 22,000 tons of these basic needs to those in need.
  • Sign a Petition – Petitions are circulating on the internet calling upon international organizations to hold Sudan accountable. In one, Change.org calls upon the United Nations to launch an investigation into the events of June 3, 2019, in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum.
  • Reach out – A great way to improve human rights as a U.S. constituent is to contact elected officials. Calling is effective. Also effective is using the ResistBot program to text one’s concerns. Be sure to mention your support of U.S. assistance to the humanitarian crisis in this country. Congressional staffers record every contact made in support of a cause. With enough support, all the claims of constituents regarding Sudan’s vulnerable position in MENA politics will be taken seriously.

-Fatemeh Zahra Yarali

Photo: Flickr

Healing in the Nuba Mountains
Located in East Africa with a maritime border along the Red Sea, Sudan is a country plagued with a violent past. Since gaining its independence from joint British-Egyptian rule in 1956, Sudan’s sovereignty has been unstable. Its first civil war erupted in 1962, and since then Sudan has continued to struggle with violence. A referendum was passed for the independence of South Sudan. Since then, however, there has been continued fighting between the two nations.

The Nuba Mountains

A point of particular conflict has been in the Nuba Mountains, which lies on the border of the two countries. Since 2011 the Nubian people have sought independence from Omar al Bashir’s Sudanese government. This caused the Bashir regime to lead what is called by some a “genocidal” war against the Nubian people. However, one man’s care has given hope to the Nubian people for over a decade, bringing healing in the Nuba Mountains.

Tom Catena’s work

Dr. Tom Catena established the Mother Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains back in 2007. Since then, he has been the only doctor permanently stationed in the region for over twelve years. This anomaly stems from the fact that the Sudanese government does not allow humanitarian aid in its country. It is Catena’s faith that gives him the willpower to work, despite the government’s restriction. Catena’s defiance has led to the government bombing the hospital on more than one occasion. Working under such dangerous conditions, Catena has been advised several times to leave, but he has reaffirmed his commitment to the Nubian people, saying, “I felt that if I left, that would mean I valued my life over the lives of people I came to serve.”

Before his time in the Nuba Mountains, Dr. Catena volunteered at Saint Mary’s hospital in Nairobi for 6 years. He is now the sole doctor for a region the size of the state of Georgia with a population between 750,000 and 1 million. Catena and his 60 staff members are on call 24 hours at the 435-bed clinic. Dr. Catena typically treats 400 patients a day and estimates that he performs more than 1,000 surgeries per year. Along with treating malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia and leprosy, Catena also treats victims of the ongoing war, further encouraging healing in the Nuba Mountains.

Catena’s impact has been so profound that he is often referred to as Jesus Christ by the Nubians who pray daily for his safety.

Awards and recognition

In 2015, Dr. Catena was ranked among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. In 2017, his efforts were recognized again when he was named laureate of the 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity and awarded $100,000 to continue his work, as well as another $1 million to donate to charities of his choice. His work in Sudan has also been the topic of a documentary, The Heart of Nubia, which Dr. Catena hopes will shed light on the deteriorating conditions in Sudan.

Truly, Dr. Catena’s life story is an inspiration. The way he works toward healing in the Nuba Mountains is impacting thousands of lives, and in this war-torn nation, this aid is needed now more than ever.

– Henry Burkert
Photo: Flickr

Top Ten Facts about Living Conditions in Sudan
Since the start of the new year, Sudan has received a flurry of media attention. What started as students protesting rising wheat prices escalated into civil unrest quickly spread across the country as thousands of activists call for President Omar al-Bashir’s resignation. The government’s response has received widespread condemnation, with Amnesty International reporting the death of 40 protestors and thousands of arrests.

The unrest sweeping through Sudan is complex, rooted in social, political and economic instability. For decades, living conditions across this African nation have fostered an environment that leaves behind vulnerable citizens and perpetuates poverty. The following top 10 facts about living conditions in Sudan are intended to unpack these factors.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Sudan

  1. Much of Sudan’s geography is defined by the Nile river and its tributaries, winding through the country’s expansive plains. The Sahara desert sweeps across the north, rendering much of the land arid and unusable. However, in the Southern Savannah, especially the Southeast regions, summer storms deliver nearly 30 inches of rain each year. These fertile grasslands allow communities to fish, grow crops and raise livestock.
  2. Sudan has been plagued by one of the longest and deadliest civil wars in the world. For the past 27 years, President Omar al-Bashir has clung to power in a brutal fashion, including the 2003 genocide in Darfur that drew international condemnation. Fighting between the Sudanese government and southern rebels finally cooled in 2011 when an almost unanimous referendum granted what is now South Sudan independence. However, the violence within Sudan continues today. The constant war weighs heavy on the civilian population as more than 2 million people remain displaced in Darfur, with a PTSD prevalence of 55 percent in some areas.
  3. The 2011 secession of South Sudan sparked economic turmoil across the nation that continues to affect daily life. Prior to 2011, Sudan saw sustained economic growth from its vast oil reserves. The petroleum industry fueled nearly 95 percent of the country’s exports and was one of the largest areas of employment. Shrinking 2.3 percent in 2018, the economy has been in a downward spiral as 47 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and Sudan has the worlds second highest rate of inflation.
  4. The unemployment rate in Sudan have been slowly but consistently falling over the past two decades. In 1995, unemployment hovered around 14 percent. Today estimates place this rate at 12.5 percent. Conflict continues to afflict labor participation in some regions and the collapse of Sudan’s oil industry left thousands jobless. An unknown number of Sudanese are also engaged in non-wage work, primarily subsistence farming. Therefore, Sudan’s relatively low unemployment rate is not entirely indicative of the country’s economic standing.
  5. Agriculture is a driving economic force in Sudan, employing 80 percent of the labor force and comprising 40 percent of the country’s GDP. With two main branches of the Nile running through Sudan, the country boasts some of the most fertile lands in the region. In the White and Blue Nile plains, some farmers receive government subsidies to operate large scale, mechanized farms. These farms are integral to the economy, sometimes providing entire communities with steady work.
  6. Roughly 70 percent of the nation’s 39.5 million people live in rural areas where the government is unable to provide the most basic of services. Clean water, food and adequate sanitation are scarce in these regions and only 22 percent of rural residents have access to electricity. At 20 percent, rural unemployment in Sudan is almost twice as high as the national average, while the poverty rate jumps to 58 percent outside of urban areas.
  7. Some of the most notable improvements in Sudanese society have been in the education sector. In 2009, 67 percent of children attended primary school, increasing significantly from 45 percent in 2001. Although primary education is free, parent-teacher associations sometimes impose fees to cover the cost of school supplies. This can have a chilling effect on attendance. UNICEF estimates nearly 3 million children between the ages of 5 and 13 are kept out of school, one of the highest rates of out-of-school children in the entire continent.
  8. Hunger continues to impact communities across Sudan. In 2017, 3.8 million people suffered from food insecurity and in 2018, 5.5 million were affected. A staggering 80 percent of the entire population is unable to afford the food they need to sustain a healthy and nutritious diet and roughly 40 percent of Sudanese people are malnourished. Famine and conflict in neighboring South Sudan continue to bring refugees into the country, with only 1 percent of newcomers able to afford the food they need.
  9. Since 2000, the Sudanese government has doubled its annual health care budget, allocating 6.6 percent of its GDP towards health expenditures With only 5.6 doctors per 10,000 people, hospitals across the country are often overwhelmed. Despite much of the population residing in rural areas, most hospitals are located in Sudan’s urban centers and nearly two-thirds of the country’s doctors worked in the capital Khartoum. Malaria, yellow fever and diarrheal diseases are common throughout the country, especially in conflict-afflicted areas that lack public health initiatives and adequate medical supplies.
  10. Some reports suggest 87 percent of Sudanese women between the ages of 15 and 49 have been forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), the highest rate in the world. However, with help from the World Health Organization, over 1,000 communities across the country have denounced FGM. The Sudanese government has also taken steps to address gender inequality, passing the 2008 Electoral Law that mandated 25 percent of parliamentary seats to be occupied by women. Today, women hold 30 percent of Sudanese Parliamentary seats.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Sudan do not paint a hopeful picture for this African nation. But despite the various adversities imposed upon the people of Sudan, many are optimistic when it comes to the future. The historic protests dominating daily life since January indicates people are not afraid to mobilize for change. As pressure continues to mount on President al-Bashir, and his 27-year rule that dictated life for millions of oppressed people, could be coming to an end.

– Kyle Dunphey

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Sudan

Located in Northeast Africa, Sudan is the third largest country of the African continent with a current population of more than 41 million people. The biggest problem country is facing is the poverty rate that is currently about 46.5 percent and continues to increase. This does not only affect men and women living in Sudan but children as well. In the text below, 10 facts about poverty in Sudan are presented.

Facts about Poverty in Sudan

  1. In 2018, about 7.1 million people in Sudan are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, while 5.5 million experience food insecurity and are in danger of starvation, according to the USAID. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) also reports that almost 50 percent of refugees in the country are experiencing food insecurity. Because of this, malnutrition rates continue to increase, growing not only above the emergency threshold, but even higher. Around 32 percent of Sudanese children are chronically malnourished.
  2. Sudan’s climate conditions such as soil erosion, desertification and recurrent droughts, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), are also causing low and variable productivity since agriculture produces 40 percent of GDP and employs over 70 percent of the labor force in rural areas of Sudan.
  3. USAID states that the consequences of the economic crisis are also fuel shortages, currency depreciation and high inflation levels. These issues have increased transportation costs and food prices, obstructing humanitarian operations in Sudan. The shortages could also increase not only food production costs but curb yields in upcoming harvest seasons.
  4. Almost 550,000 breastfeeding mothers and babies in 2010 were lacking needed additional nutritious foods. In 2015, maternal mortality rate involved 311 deaths per 100,000 live births while the mortality rate for children was 65.1 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  5. Sudan remains a high-indebted country that has accumulated sizeable external arrears. IFAD states that by the end of 2014, Sudan’s external debt was $43.6 billion in nominal terms, and around 85 percent of this amount was in arrears.
  6. In response to the rise of food insecurity and hunger in Sudan, USAID happens to be the largest donor of emergency food assistance to Sudan. The Office of Food for Peace (FFP) partners with WFP and UNICEF to provide emergency assistance to those in need. The FFP assistance currently supports more than 2.5 million food-insecure people in Sudan per year.
  7. According to the UNICEF, 3.2 million people were internally displaced, including almost 1.9 million children in 2016. UNICEF provided access to the drinking water supply through operation, maintenance and water chlorination services to about one million displaced persons and refugees.
  8. IFAD has prioritized Sudan for more than 20 years and their loans help increase agricultural production through environmental practices and distribution of improved seeds. Their activities include promoting land reform, harmonizing resources for nomads and farmers as well as promoting equitable distribution of resources. They also ensure representation of both women and youth in grass-roots organizations and guarantee access to microfinance for women. This is very important since 24.7 percent of women in Sudan are unemployed.
  9. WFP, thanks to the E.U. Humanitarian Aid, has been able to provide five months of nutritional support to 86,600 children under the age of five and to pregnant and nursing women in 2017.
  10. Global Partnership for Education (GPE) started the educational program that began in July 2013 and continues to improve the learning environment in Sudan, providing and distributing almost six million textbooks and strengthening the education system. Almost 1,000 additional conventional and community classrooms have been built through this program which benefits over 52,000 students. Over 3,400 communities and 4,800 students in the country also received school grants.

These top 10 facts about poverty in Sudan bring not only the awareness of the people’s lives but reflects how much change and development is being brought to the country. These issues can be solved and poverty rates can be improved.

Organizations, including the few listed in the text above, will continue to develop and come together, bringing not only hope to the people but also dedication, ensuring a better future for the people in the country.

– Charlene Frett
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor
Child labor is defined as the employment of children who are under the legal working age. Currently, there are about 265 million children engaged in child labor around the world. While this is clearly not ideal, there has been a reduction in child labor across the globe, from 23 percent of children working in 2000 to close to 17 percent in 2012. Many countries whose laws once allowed for child labor now protect their children from such harsh conditions instead.

Where Countries Are Based on Levels of Income

There are four basic income levels. Level 1 is extreme poverty; the family can barely afford to eat and must get water from wells. Level 2 is lower-middle income; the family can afford decent food and shoes. Level 3 is upper-middle income; the family can afford running water and basic appliances. Level 4 is high income; the family can afford a nice house and cars.

The higher a family’s income, the less likely they are to have their children work from a young age. Likewise, the higher a country’s income, the less likely they are to approve of child labor. We can see the likelihood of child labor by looking at the income level of different countries.

Level 4: Ireland

In 18th and 19th century Ireland, children were routinely put to work because they could be paid less than what adult workers were paid, they could operate certain machines that adults could not and it was believed that they would grow up to be harder workers. In many cases, children aged 3 to 7 were outright kidnapped by organized trade rings and forced to do whatever work their masters wanted them to.

The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act of 1996 changed all of that. Under this law, Irish employers cannot make children younger than 16 work full time. Additionally, employers cannot hire anyone under age 14 at all. Children aged 14 to 15 can only do light work during school holiday periods, work in educational programs that are not harmful to their health or cultural enrichment jobs. On top of that, employees aged 18 or younger must receive a minimum of €6.69 per hour, which is 70 percent of the Irish adult minimum wage.

Level 3: Croatia

In Croatia, the legal minimum age for work is 15. From the ages of 15 to 18 years old, children can only work with written permission from their parents, and inspections must show that the labor does not interfere with the child’s health, morality or education. In addition, anyone caught dealing in child prostitution in any way will face a three to 10-month prison sentence.

These laws have not stopped all child labor in Croatia. Roma children are often forced to beg in the streets, and Croatia experiences the active trafficking of young girls for prostitution. That said, the 2006-2012 National Program for the Protection of the Best Interests of Children made great strides in the reduction in child labor, particularly prostitution.

Level 2: Sudan

Of Sudan’s 37.96 million children, 45,600 are currently subject to child labor. Not only are there no laws against child labor, but the government also encourages it by kidnapping children in rural areas during military raids. These children start working at age 5, so they miss out on their educations, which otherwise would be compulsory.

However, Sudan has made strides in decreasing the child labor rate, including signing a Partnership Protocol Agreement with the European Union in 2008 and inspecting working environments to keep children from working in toxic conditions. Unfortunately, little has been done to help rural areas. Families have to migrate to urban areas or to other countries to escape labor and let their children get an education. Although, escape from Sudan is illegal and far from easy, it is still possible.

Level 1: Niger

The child labor rate in Niger is 42.8 percent. The jobs that young children are made to perform include agriculture, mining, caste-based servitude and forced begging. The government has set up a number of programs to reduce child labor, including Centers for Education, Legal, and Preventative Service; The Project to Reduce Child Labor in Agriculture; and The World Bank Country Program. However, these programs have made only moderate advances in stopping child labor.

Child labor continues to be a problem in the world today. Poor and corrupt countries are quick to put children to work because the children do not require high wages. However, laws and legislation all over the world have resulted in a global reduction in child labor. It has not stopped child labor altogether, but a little progress is better than none at all. The fight to end child labor continues.

Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

Immunization in Sudan
For the past few years, Sudan has been in the middle of one of the worst measles outbreaks in their country’s history. With 1,730 confirmed cases and over 3,000 suspected cases, measles is spreading like wildfire. This has brought to light the desperate need for a proper system for immunization in Sudan, especially for diseases like measles.

Measles Prevention

Measles is a highly infectious disease that spreads very quickly, but can be easily prevented by vaccine.

After the introduction of the measles vaccine, there was an 84 percent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2016 worldwide. It is estimated that the vaccine prevented 20.4 million measles-related deaths during this time period. This statistic delineates the power of the vaccination and the positive effects it can bring to a country like Sudan.

With support from UNICEF, the Ministry of Health launched a country-wide campaign to vaccinate almost 8 million children for measles.

Combatting Poverty and Measles

Children living in poverty are particularly susceptible to catching measles as they are often malnourished. Additionally, children living in conflict zones are difficult to reach in order to immunize. As a result of such conditions, UNICEF has been tirelessly fighting to get humanitarian access to these areas.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also come to the forefront in the fight against measles. GOAL Global, a nonprofit that focuses on international aid for those in poverty, launched its own campaign for immunization in Sudan. Within the first 7 days, they vaccinated over 20,000 children.

GOAL Global worked in partnership with other major groups like the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to get this campaign off the ground. Thanks to groups such as these, children that would otherwise lack access to healthcare are able to stay safe in the face of the measles epidemic.

Campaigns for immunization in Sudan are not as simple as just bringing the vaccine out to children. They require extensive planning and mapping out of areas, in addition to training healthcare workers to administer the vaccine.

Meningitis and Aid Organizations

Meningitis is another disease that Sudan struggles with. Meningitis affects the spinal cord and brain and in some cases can be life-threatening. Sudan accounts for 15 percent of meningitis cases in the “meningitis belt,” which is a stretch of countries heavily affected by the meningitis infection.

In recent years, WHO in partnership with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF have launched an immunization campaign for meningitis with the goal to vaccinate 720,000 children in Sudan. Campaigns such as these require upkeep in order to keep the outbreak at bay and prevent the return of the disease.

Fostering Impactful Change

Vaccines are also an inexpensive, high-impact solution to disease. The introduction of immunization campaigns to Sudan has the potential to stop the measles epidemic and the meningitis problem dead in their tracks.

Vaccinations are a big step towards evening the playing field for children living in poverty compared to children from more affluent communities. Immunization in Sudan for diseases like the measles and meningitis give all children across the board a better chance at life.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Flickr