War broke out between two rival generals on April 15
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Khartoum, Sudan,* have been helping to support the local population since war broke out between two rival generals on April 15. Since that time, almost 1.4 million people have been displaced according to a report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Even before the fighting, Sudan has faced years of political instability and had millions of people internally displaced. Sudan is also home to some 1.3 million refugees from other countries like Syria, Eritrea and South Sudan. As of May 23, 730 individuals had been killed and 5,500 others wounded, according to Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health.
Salesian missionaries in Khartoum are living halfway between the two fronts. Father Jacob Thelekkadan, rector, explained, “To everyone’s astonishment, on Saturday, April 15, shots and heavy gunfire were heard. One bomb fell in the laboratories of the Salesian St Joseph’s vocational school. Fortunately, at a time when the students were elsewhere. It was almost a miracle, considering that on Saturdays the classrooms are filled again after the Friday prayer, according to the precepts of Islam.”
After rescuing the youth, Salesians immediately began to put in place assistance for families who asked for protection and assistance. Some needed food while others needed medical care. Salesians report that everyone in Sudan wants a durable ceasefire to replace food supplies, reconnect water and electricity, and allow humanitarian relief to protect the innocent people caught in the civil war.
Salesians have decided to stay in Khartoum and El-Obeid, where they operate two vocational schools that provide youth with job skills. The schools are accessible to the children of Muslim families, and the public institutions of the country are in support of the Salesian efforts that have been taking place for more than 40 years. Salesians also operate parishes and primary schools in the country.
With more than 36% of its population living in poverty, Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world, according to UNICEF. Low incomes and food deficiencies are common, and ongoing violence and civil unrest exacerbate already harsh conditions. Despite these challenges, more youth are in school today than ever before. There remain, however, some 3.2 million children between the ages of 6-16 out of school with the highest rates among nomadic populations, those living in rural areas and in the poorest households.
School enrollment and retention is affected by weak curriculum in Sudanese schools and inadequate educational materials and teacher training. According to UNICEF, more than 40% of teachers are untrained. Ongoing conflict and the high cost of education, particularly in rural areas where parents have to pay school fees, also affect enrollment rates.