Joint Statement by Save the Children International and the National Council for Child Welfare - Sudan: Calls in the protection of Children in West Darfur as fresh violence kills dozens

Thursday 8 April 2021


This is a joint statement by Save the Children International and the National Council for Child Welfare


Save the Children and the National Council for Child Welfare are horrified at the new wave of intercommunal violence in Geneina, West Darfur, which has led to at least 87 deaths and 191 injuries in the past days.


The violence also led to the destruction of a Save the Children-supported school, Al Fardous School, which was looted then completely burned to the ground. The school served 1,219 students, who are now without any prospect of education for the near future. This school was the last functioning one out of five in the West Darfur area funded by European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid – four of which were destroyed previously in mid-January.


The new wave of violence comes shortly after the onset of the mid-January clashes in West Darfur, which displaced more than 109,000 people from displacement camps in Geneina to surrounding villages. Internally Displaced Persons remain in critical need of basic services like clean water and sanitation. Since the shooting began, local markets have closed, all humanitarian flights and operations have been suspended, all roads around southern Geneina are blocked, and a state of emergency has been declared in West Darfur.


Osman Abufatima, the Secretary-General of the National Council for Child Welfare
(NCCW) said:


 “We express our deepest sorrow over the ongoing violence in the city of Geneina and its impacts on children. We strongly condemn the attack and looting of schools, hospitals, and medical personnel; such attacks are considered grave child rights violations. We call on the investigation committees to hold the perpetrators to account”


“We denounce all acts of violence in West Darfur, and call on all parties to cease hostilities and ensure the protection of civilians, to facilitate the full implementation of the peace agreement, and to make room for development and community cohesion.”


Save the Children’s Country Director in Sudan, Arshad Malik said:


 “We are deeply concerned about this new eruption of violence in West Darfur, and we fear that the escalation will surpass the ability of humanitarian actors to respond to the crisis, especially as the region is still recovering from the latest conflict that affected many children and their families.”


“Although our staff in Geneina are unharmed physically, they have been directly affected. One of our colleague’s homes was reportedly looted and burned down. Additionally, several staff members’ families have been displaced by the violence.”


“Save the Children strongly condemns the attack on a Save the Children school. All children have the right to access a safe education, and no school should ever be deliberately targeted. In the long term, attacks on education can lead to weakened educational systems, adversely affecting a country’s economic, political and social development.”


The NCCW has been working with multiple actors to ensure the Protection of Children in Armed Conflict through the provision of training on International Humanitarian Law, in addition to ensuring the integration of international agreements in national laws and their full implementation.


Save the Children have been responding in six locations in Geneina displacement camps and surrounding areas since last January, providing WASH, health, child protection, as well as distributing essential items such as hygiene kits to 15,000 children and their families.