UNICEF Emergency Programmes: Sudan (Northern Sector) Donor Update 15 Feb 2000

1. Emergency overview and recent developments
In the year 2000, the Sudanese people, in war, flood and drought affected states, continue to suffer from lack of essential and basic survival needs. However, there is no issue more important for the children of Sudan than peace. Every Sudanese child is affected by the ongoing wars. Regrettably little progress was made towards peace in 1999. The major civil war between the SPLM/A and the Government of Sudan (GOS) continues, as do some 40 less known and even less understood second tier violent conflicts. The recent success of oil exploration and its export is causing a humanitarian crisis in Unity State. Several areas of Sudan remain severely affected by fighting.

In Unity State, although insecurity has hampered access to a great part of the territory, the humanitarian community has had access to the capital Bentiu, a garrison town, which houses a large number of IDPs. The resurgence of fighting between the factions in Unity State in late September 1999, resulted in a rapid deterioration of the security situation and all humanitarian aid workers were withdrawn from the State. Over 75% of the newly displaced persons are children and women. Following a joint UN agenc, GOS and NGOs security assessment mission in November 1999, limited activities recommenced in Bentiu and Rubkona towns. Movement within Bentiu was unrestricted, but permission was required to leave the town. Humanitarian personnel were able to stay in Bentiu, although looting of compounds was still ongoing. However, on 2 January 2000, a CARE vehicle carrying health supplies from Bentiu to Mayom was attacked and two CARE employees were killed and two went missing. Following this incident, CARE suspended all operations in Bentiu, and other NGOs and UN agencies have also limited their interventions to life-saving only. Since then, bullets have hit a helicopter belonging to one of the oil companies operating in the area and a WFP car parked in Rubkona.

In Eastern Sudan, insecurity along the Eritrean border continues, with an increase in the number of IDPs, thus putting further pressure on the host communities. Anti-personnel mines continue to be a serious problem for the population of Kassala State, causing numerous casualties and injuries.

In the Nuba Mountains, with the new access obtained from the warring parties, UNICEF, in an integrated approach with other agencies, will work towards peace-building at grass roots level while expanding on survival and growth projects, including Polio eradication.

In Blue Nile the Government denied access to UN agencies and international NGOs for assessment of the humanitarian needs in October 1999. UNICEF, in close co-ordination with WFP and UNHCU, continues to negotiate with GOS to ensure the survival of children and the IDPs in the region.

Along the Nile corridor, the WFP/UNICEF barge between Malakal and Juba is currently suspended due to security concerns and so UNICEF interventions have not been realised.

Natural disasters like droughts and floods continue to exacerbate the situation. 1999 witnessed devastating flash and river floods in Khartoum, White Nile, Blue Nile and River Nile states leading to complete or partial destruction of thousands of houses, schools and health facilities and leaving more than 5,000 families homeless. Also during the same year, Sudan suffered a major epidemic of meningitis and widespread outbreaks of cholera and malaria.

2. UNICEF’s response: Activities, Achievements, and Constraints

UNICEF continues to be the lead agency for OLS non-food assistance in accessible areas of Sudan. In 1999 OLS northern sector worked closely with NGOs and other partners. USD 2.8 million was utilised for the procurement of relief and shelter items, benefiting displaced and war affected populations in the southern states, the transitional zones and displaced populations in Khartoum, White Nile and Blue Nile states.

Emergency response to the displaced and war-affected populations in Unity state

UNICEF is in the process of opening an outpost in Bentiu to monitor the humanitarian situation and provide assistance to people in need. Recruitment of a National Project Officer to oversee all project activities in Bentiu are underway.

Quantities of relief items (blankets, plastic sheeting, cooking utensils, essential drugs, ORS) sufficient for the targeted population are pre-positioned in El Obeid and Malakal. Distribution will begin as soon as security clearance is given.

A joint nutrition survey by WFP, CARE and UNICEF, conducted 12-15 December indicated a global malnutrition rate of 26.3%. The level of malnutrition was higher among IDPs: one in two IDP children is malnourished. The survey recommended supplementary feeding, for which UNICEF has pre-positioned UNIMIX with CARE in El Obeid. However, all feeding centres in Bentiu were run by CARE, which suspended operations in Unity State following security incidents early January.

Recovery and Repatriation of abducted children.

LRA-abducted children

UNICEF estimates that some 2,000 abducted children are still captive with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in south Sudan. UNICEF has been active in advocating for the return of abducted children as part of a larger programme dealing with child victims of conflict and instability throughout the region. The December 8th 1999 Agreement between the governments of Sudan and Uganda has opened the way to address, the problem of Ugandan children abducted by the LRA. UNICEF hopes to ensure the release and return of all abducted Ugandan children held by LRA and the reunification with their families.

In the last week of January, 75 people (20 adults and 56 children - 23 girls, 32 boys) were turned over to UNICEF in Juba, and UNICEF & WFP aircraft transported them to Khartoum where they have been placed in the National Camping Centre under the care of UNICEF and UNCHR. UNICEF and UNHCR are conducting individual interviews and compiling documentation to facilitate the process of repatriation and reuniting them with their families, as well as providing necessary medical attention and psycho-social care.

Abduction of Children and Women in the transitional zones

During 1999, UNICEF tackled the problem of children and women abducted by tribal militia in southern Sudan and brought to the transitional zones, forming the Committee for the Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWC). Abducted children and women held in servitude are being traced, retrieved and reunited with their families, albeit slower than UNICEF would wish. Eleven women and children out of an estimated 500 waiting in W. Kordofan and southern Darfur were returned to Aweil in November, whilst some 100 were re-united with relatives in IDP camps in the transitional zones. Incidents of abductions along the Aweil-Wau railway still occur.

Plans for NIDs 2000

Preparations are underway for the National Immunisation Days (NID) Campaign for Polio Eradication. Round one of the campaign for 2000 will be held 23-25 February, whilst round two is scheduled for 29-31 March. Some 5 million children under five in all 26 states are targeted to receive 2 doses of OPV vaccine during the 2 rounds. Vitamin A distribution will take place simultaneously during the first round for all children between the ages of 6 months to 5 years. The campaign will be conducted jointly by GOS (state ministries of health), UNICEF and WHO. The total budget is at USD 2.3 million. UNICEF has procured all OPV vaccine (USD 980,000). Operational costs, including personnel, training, transportation of vaccines to field and all locations, social mobilisation etc. will be covered by UNICEF ($430,000) and WHO ($500,000). The balance of USD 390,000 will be covered by GOS.

3. Summary of 2000 Appeal requirements and receipts

Following the launching of the Appeal, a contribution of US$ 947,867 has been received from the Government of Sweden. Moreover, OLS northern sector has received requests from donors on specific project proposals in areas of interest to them. UNICEF Khartoum has already submitted proposals to ECHO, and is preparing proposals for the Netherlands government. Following a meeting with the Dutch Embassy in Khartoum, funds are expected towards the procurement of essential drugs, for the Emergency Education project, HHFS and for Emergency Preparedness and Response.

The table below shows UNICEF Sudan - northern sector requirements for the year.

Total Programme budget
Estimated Funds Available
Funds Requested
Grass Roots Peace Building Initiatives
Human Rights Promotion
CNSP [Children in Need of Special Protection]
EPR [Emergency Preparedness and Response]
Logistics and Aircraft
HHFS [Household Food Security]
Total HHFS
Water Environmental Sanitation [Water & Environmental Sanitation]
Emergency Basic Education
Mine Awareness
Planning, Analysis, Monitoring and Evaluation
Multi Sectoral Nuba Mountains Assistance - UNICEF, WFP, UNDP,FAO,WHO

Further details of the Sudan Emergency Programme can be obtained from:

Thomas Ekvall
UNICEF Representative
Tel +249 11 473 462
Fax + 249 11 471 126

Robin Medforth-Mills
Tel: + 41 22 909 5554
Fax: + 41 22 909 5902

Dan Rohrmann
New York
Tel: 1 212 326 7009
Fax: 1 212 326 7175

For more information, visit UNICEF's website at