Child rights organisation, Plan International, is fighting to provide emergency relief to tens of thousands of returnees flooding into Southern Sudan.
180,000 Southern Sudanese are thought to have travelled home in time for last week’s independence referendum, and the number is continuing to grow.
Plan International, in partnership with other agencies, is providing critical facilities for children and their families at Kosti in White Nile State, a gateway town in the north of Sudan for people heading south.
“We are working with our partner agencies to operate child-friendly spaces for protection and for providing learning activities,” says Don McPhee, Plan International’s Country Director in Sudan.
“We are serving on average about 500 children per day.”
“We need more than $325,000 in funding in order to develop the services we are offering,” adds Mr McPhee.
Access to water, basic sanitation and electricity is proving problematic for people in transit.
“Plan is using tanker trucks to provide people with water for drinking and hygiene purposes,” explains Mr McPhee.
“Lighting and electricity continue to be a challenge in Kosti. We now have an electrician on site as families had been setting up their own electricity by connecting wires.”
In border areas in Southern Sudan cases of moderate malnutrition have been reported amongst returnees, as well as an increased incidence of diarrhoea and vomiting.
“Urgent needs include blankets, mosquito nets and plastic sheeting,” says Plan International’s Country Director in Southern Sudan, Fikru Abebe.
“However, we are also looking to the long-term and considering returnees’ access to education and employment opportunities.”
Nearly 4 million people registered to vote in the independence referendum in Southern Sudan, which ended on Saturday 15th January.
Foreign observers say the week-long process was largely successful, peaceful and credible.
Final results are due in February.
The ballot was a key requirement of the 2005 peace agreement which ended a 22 year civil war between northern and southern Sudan.
“Movement of people is likely to continue for several months,” says Mr. Abebe.
“A new registration system has been designed in order to count and register newcomers at border areas.”
Now the referendum is over, the north and south will continue negotiating thorny issues – including border demarcation and the status of the oil-rich Abyei region.
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Notes to editors
1) Plan was founded by British journalist John Langdon-Davies in 1937 to rescue orphans and other vulnerable children from the Spanish Civil War.
2) Today we work in 48 of the poorest countries on the planet across Africa, Asia and South America.
3) We have over 114,000 sponsors in the UK, generating £25 million a year, and 1.5 million sponsored children worldwide.
4) Our projects, including schools and health centres, are geared to working with children and their communities to help them build a better future.
5) Sponsorship starts at £15-a-month and, rather than going to individual children and their families, funds projects to improve schooling, health, nutrition and livelihoods across communities.
6) Plan UK is a member of The Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies (CBHA), a consortium of 15 leading British NGOs with an initial two-year funding of £8m from DFID to deliver appropriate, high quality, quicker humanitarian assistance to those affected by disaster.