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Estonia Helping to Improve Availability of Education in Southern Sudan

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The Foreign Ministry is responding to the UN’s appeal for humanitarian aid with 30 000 euros, which will support the project of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to increase the availability of education for children in Southern Sudan. This sum was allocated from the Foreign Ministry’s budget for humanitarian aid.

Sudan is still categorised by the UN as one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in the world. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that as a result of the domestic conflict in Sudan that has gone on for years, millions of people have lost their lives or been forced to leave their homes. Over the past few years hundreds of thousands of refuges from Southern Sudan have also returned to their homes at the appeal of the government, but they lack almost all the things necessary for life. “Southern Sudan is becoming an independent state as the result of the recent referendum, and it is essential to avoid it becoming a failed state. Education is of key importance in the development of a new country,” he added.

Foreign Minister Paet stated that guaranteeing access to education for the children of Southern Sudan is very important for restoring normal everyday life after the post-conflict humanitarian crisis. “Since 330 000 refugees have returned to Southern Sudan, last year the number of school-aged children jumped to 1.5 million,” said Foreign Minister Paet. The current situation only allows for 72% of children to receive some kind of academic education, and there is a significant gap in accessibility of education for girls and boys. “It’s clear that the people who have relocated here or returned to their homes need international aid in order to cope with the situation,” Paet added.

The goal of the project of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is to make primary education available to as many children as possible in Southern Sudan. In addition, the current educational establishments are overpopulated – on average there are 129 students per class, sometimes more. In order to normalise teaching conditions new schools must be created, teachers must be trained, and study materials must be procured.

As a result of the war that has gone on since 1983 and claimed two million lives, Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world. Humanitarian aid needs are high in many of the country’s regions – residents lack sufficient food and drinking water, and the education and health care systems are inadequate. Estonia has supported the improvement of the humanitarian situation in Sudan since 2004.

Additional information on the Foreign Ministry’s development co-operation and humanitarian aid: