03/05/09 - On Wednesday the International Criminal Court in the Hague issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's President Hassan al-Bashir for atrocities in Sudan's western Darfur region. It is the first such warrant against a sitting head of state.
Siblings at an SOS Emergency Relief Center in Sudan
On Thursday, Bashir announced the expulsion of 10 international aid agencies, including Oxfam, Save the Children, and Doctors Without Borders.
The actions of Mr. Bashir are most directly affecting the Darfur portion of Sudan where many live in refugee camps and rely on international relief organizations for food, water and shelter. Thankfully, SOS Children's Villages is not affected by the expulsions and has been carrying on its work east of Darfur where it is positioned to assist refugees from the west.
SOS Children's Villages have been continuously operating in Sudan since 1978 when a Village in Khartoum and an SOS Kindergarten were opened.
A child and mother at an SOS Family Center in Sudan
The ongoing civil war, which started in 1955, has had a devastating effect on the living conditions of the children in Sudan. The population has been living in constant fear and deprivation, particularly in the south of the country. It was in view of this situation that a meeting with the Vice President of Sudan took place in late 1996 to discuss the establishment of a second SOS Children's Village in the south of Sudan. SOS Children's Villages was given a site in Malakal. The second SOS Children's Village became operational at the beginning of 2002.
At present, there are two SOS Children's Villages in Sudan, SOS schools, and a Youth Facility that helps teenagers transition into self-sufficient adults. SOS also operates a Vocational Training Center for former child soldiers and works towards reuniting these youths with their families. This facility for child soldiers was forced to temporarily shut-down on February 25th, but SOS is working towards re-opening the facility when conditions permit.
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