Kenya + 2 more

IOM press briefing notes 29 Nov 2002: Sudan, Kenya

Spokesperson: Jean Philippe Chauzy
SUDAN - Working with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) - As peace negotiations continue in Machakos, Kenya between the Government of Sudan and the rebel forces under the banner of SPLA/M, IOM has been invited by the UN to coordinate the data collected from a number of socio-economic and demographic surveys of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in and around Khartoum.

There are an estimated 4 million people displaced inside Sudan, over 10% of the total population.=A0 In Khartoum alone, the estimated number of IDPs stands at 500,000.=A0 Although agencies have been assisting them for many years, no real data exists about who they are, where they come from and their future needs.

The surveys are being carried out by the international NGOs CARE and CONCERN and by national NGOs in cooperation with the Government of Sudan.=A0 Each survey takes a sample of the IDP population that encompasses all ethnic groups and then each family is asked a series of questions by trained staff.=A0 The data collected is transferred to an IOM designed and managed database where it will be made available to all interested parties.=A0 In this way the needs of the people can be assessed and the scale and timing of the return process can be analysed.=A0

Many IDP families living in Khartoum have been there for a number of years.=A0 They have grown up in an urban environment where some meagre work is available and where the children can gain access to education and health services.=A0 The challenge for all humanitarian agencies will be to put in place substantial programmes in rural areas to meet the needs of the returnees so as to encourage the return of IDPs.

The survey has already been expanded to include the IDPs from the Nuba Mountains, a fertile area in Central Sudan that has benefited from prolonged peace and which may offer the chance of early return programmes for the displaced Nubans.

The vast majority of IDPs are expected to wait and see if any peace is lasting before committing to return. But whatever their decision, IOM will continue to assess their needs and to inform them, whenever possible, on conditions back in their home communities.

Apart from an 11-year period of peace, Sudan has been torn by civil war between the mainly Muslim north and the Animist and Christian south since independence in 1956.

KENYA - First Cultural Orientation Class for Somali Bantu - A first group of Somali Bantu refugees scheduled to be resettled in the United States has completed the IOM cultural orientation course in Kakuma Refugee Camp.

The course consists of a 10-day, 50-hour intensive cultural orientation classes, which all US bound refugees aged 15 and above have to attend.

The course covers a wide range of topics, from basic literacy skills, hygiene, employment and education, to US laws, the role of the resettlement agency, and more.

Students were divided by their age groups, their educational background and proficiency in English, Somali or May.=A0 May is the most commonly spoken Somali Bantu dialect.

IOM cultural orientation instructors reported that due to the high number of mothers with infants, they had to open a make shift day care centre to accommodate the high number of infants during the classes.=A0 The Somali Bantu are known to have large families.=A0 According to statistics recently compiled by IOM, infants aged 5 and below comprise 31% of the population.

Between June and September 2002, IOM relocated a total of 11,755 Somali Bantu refugees from Dadaab refugee camp to Kakuma refugee camp.=A0

In September, officers from the US Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) began interviewing the group and recently approved 470 Somali Bantu currently living in Kakuma for resettlement to the US.=A0 A total of 202 persons from this first group took part in IOM's pre-departure cultural orientation courses.

As part of the cultural orientation course, IOM has installed a kitchen and a bathroom in one of the four classrooms in Kakuma as many Somali Bantu have never been previously exposed to indoor plumbing and basic kitchen appliances.=A0 The presence of a model stove, refrigerator, toilet and other commonly used appliances will greatly help them as they prepare for their new life in America.

For more information, please call Sasha Chanoff, IOM Nairobi Tel: 254.2.444.4167