Insecurity, lack of education harm Darfur's Sortony camp

Militiamen threaten camp residents of Sortony in Kabkabiya, North Darfur, causing insecurity for people venturing out of the camp for displaced people. A shortage of teachers and classrooms poses a disadvantage for the displaced children.

A coordinator for the camps in Kabkabiya locality told Radio Dabanga that the displaced in Sortony currently live in “a state of siege by militants”. “They prevent them by force of arms from going out to collect firewood.

“These militiamen have been the cause of the road blockade between Sortony and Kabkabiya since May last year, which impacts the movement of dispalced people. A number of them is denied access to food aid.”

A resident of Sortony camp for the displaced was abducted by armed men from Kabkabiya market, and gunmen ambushed a group of children near the camp, kidnapping two of them in January.

Militiamen have sporadically blocked or imposed fees on tankers which carry water, among other, to Sortony last October and September. Listeners reported to Radio Dabanga in December that displaced people venturing out of Sortony to collect firewood are most often the victims of beatings, robberies and intimidation by armed shephers and militia members.

Teacher shortage

The coordinator pointed out that there is a lack of teachers and schools in the camp. There are approximately 1,011 pupils in Sortony who cannot enjoy education. “Classrooms are overcrowded with children, as there are about 5,461 children in some 30 classrooms in the basic school stage.”

All teachers in the camp number about 60 and these are all volunteers, the coordinator said.

Last year the Sudanese government approved the construction of 68 temporary classrooms in Sortony after advocacy by the UN Children's Fund (Unicef). The UN humanitarian office OCHA reported at the time that its education partners identified some 3,400 school-aged displaced children in need of learning facilities.

Sortony became the shelter for more than 20,000 Jebel Marra residents who fled the fighting between government and militia forces against armed rebels that started mid-January 2016.