Urgent Action: Aid to Women and Children in Darfur

by MADRE, An International Women's Human Rights Org.
Urgent Action: Aid to Women and Children in Darfur

With the help of GlobalGiving supporters, MADRE and Zenab have been able to provide much-needed aid to hundreds of people in the refugee camps at Autach, Gereida, and El Sireaf and surrounding villages. We have constructed private latrines in two of the camps so far, and distributed sugar, dates, onions, oil, millet, and sorghum to hundreds of people. These items were especially important during Ramadan, in October of last year.

Women and young children who have been traumatized by displacement and war have benefited from the services of a local counselor, who travels to each camp to conduct day-long sessions. The sessions are not regarded as psychological counseling, which people in the camps are not familiar or comfortable with, but are offered in a way that encourages people to share their experiences and regain a sense of trust and community. Another activity that has been very successful in this regard is a new creative project, designed to empower women by supplying them with raw materials they can use to produce different types of artisanal products, to help generate income. The women we’re working with have found this to be a very useful type of support, and we were happy to hear how much they enjoyed it too. Together with four other local women’s organizations, we have formed the Darfur Network for Creative Women, in order to arrange cultural and musical events.

Our biggest success so far was participating at the Annual International Exhibition in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. We traveled with 30 women and a group of musicians from the camps, and rented a tent for them to display their art. The musical group performed every night in front of our tent, and we received many local and international visitors to what came to be known as the Darfurian Women’s Creativity Tent. In fact, ours became a famous venue at the exhibition, and we were able to sell many of the women’s wares.

Our plan is to continue our work in Darfur, and expand our distribution of food and aid to the south of Sudan. We understand that one of the latest reports states that food aid has decreased by 64%, and we see the tremendous need this has caused in the camps. Because of this, and so many other factors, the public health situation is also rapidly deteriorating, as the World Health Organization has documented.

In the coming months, we hope to buy milk and rice, in addition to other food items, to distribute to women and their children, and to particularly channel aid to pregnant women who are very vulnerable. Non-food aid will include clothing, sheets, blankets, and bed nets to prevent the transmission of malaria, one of our most pressing health concerns.

Thank you so much for supporting the women of Sudan with your resources and support. The relief and joy that comes from knowing that we are not alone, that we are not suffering in anonymity, is immeasurable. The world is full of injustice, and we can’t fix it all at once, but your gestures from the other side of the world make a big difference.

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As the crisis in Darfur rages on, into its third year, more than two million people have been forced to flee their homes and are spread across a vast, unprotected area, where they continue to be attacked by government-allied janjaweed militias. UNICEF reports that nearly two million children have been directly harmed by the violence, some of them displaced multiple times. The war has now spilled over into neighboring Chad, where janjaweed militias massacred villagers in April, adding to a death toll that already surpasses 460,000. Since April, fighting between rival rebel groups has also affected civilians, escalating the death toll even further. In late May, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that the violence had reached unprecedented levels. The UN announced May that it might withdraw its aid workers from Darfur.

Rape is a primary weapon in this war. Women—who are struggling to keep their families alive in remote refugee camps that lack food, water, and healthcare—are routinely raped when they venture outside of the camp to fetch water, collect wood, or plant crops. Women who survive these attacks are often ostracized by their families for having been raped. Many have been banished from their homes for pregnancies resulting from rape.

With your help, MADRE is responding to the crisis with our partner Zenab, a Sudanese women's organization working in El Sieref and other refugee camps, where women have been systematically raped, children fear for their lives, and traumatized families lack even basic necessities.

The generous response from MADRE donors in the last two months has made it possible for Zenab to begin:

• Building enclosed toilets within the camp, allowing women to enjoy a modicum of privacy and security and reducing the need to leave the camps, which will help to improve security for displaced women and girls.

• Providing three trained social workers to offer play therapy to traumatized children, as well as conduct training sessions for local women and men about the harmful consequences of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)—which Zenab reports is practiced on almost every young girl.

• Feeding fifty families—approximately 400 people. Food resources are an incredibly important part of aid efforts, especially as UN and other aid agencies in the region are scrambling to find enough funds to pay for rations needed by more than two million displaced people.

The onset of the rainy season this month will make large-scale aid deliveries even more difficult, as roads become impassable. Yet MADRE’s partnership with a locally-based women’s organization will make it possible for us to distribute emergency aid directly to women who are most in need.

None of Zenab’s work—feeding families, promoting safety and security, and empowering women—would be possible without the support of people like you.

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Organization Information

MADRE, An International Women's Human Rights Org.

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @madrespeaks
Project Leader:
Vivian Stromberg
Executive Director
New York , NY United States

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