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2007.11.09

* Executive Director Ann M. Veneman wraps up first trip to Sudan
* 11/2~4, 2007

(narrated by Edward Carwardine )
UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman completed her first visit to Sudan, impressed by progress for children while calling for continued efforts towards long-term development.

Touring a school in Malakal, Ms. Veneman was pleased to see children learning again in Southern Sudan. An estimated 1.2 million children now attend classes in Southern Sudan, compared to just 340,000 during the civil war.

UNICEF supports government efforts to improve physical access and quality of education but Ms. Veneman noted the large class sizes and limited facilities straining to accommodate increasing enrolment. She raised the issued of increased need to build capacity during discussions with partners in Juba.

In Darfur, where Ms. Veneman visited the Abu Shouk camp for internally displaced persons, she saw first hand the impact of the conflict on mothers and children. Speaking to mothers in a UNICEF-supported children’s centre and therapeutic feeding project, Ms. Veneman noted that security and stability would be critical to the chances of people returning home.

The potential for early recovery when security conditions permit, was underlined when she visited rural Donkishatta village in Darfur, where UNICEF is supporting the community to rebuild education, health and water services in an area that has been relatively stable. Here, local women are also learning new skills and playing a stronger role in community life.

Ms. Veneman returned to the theme of integrated health care in the capital Khartoum, launching a measles immunization campaign as part of the Sudan Accelerated Child Survival Initiative. The initiative promotes basic community-based access to immunization, vitamin supplements and anti-malarial bednets, as well as health, hygiene and nutrition education for mothers. If successful, the initiative could save the lives of 60,000 Sudanese children in the next year.

Ms. Veneman’s final stop was at the new Child and Family Unit in Khartoum, led by the Sudanese government and national police, with UNICEF support The centre provides assistance to victims of abuse and violence and is seen as an important step in recognizing violence against women and children in Sudanese society. Ms. Veneman called the project highly innovative and a potential model for the rest of Africa.

Ms Veneman ended her visit to Sudan saying that overall she was left with a sense of optimism about progress being made for children but stressed in a country with high rates of child and maternal mortality amongst other challenges, including in Darfur, there was still a long way to go.

This is Edward Carwardine, for UNICEF, in Khartoum.


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