EI campaigns for a decisive UN mandate in Darfur

In addition to a letter to President Omar al Bashir, EI has written to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan requesting that the UN mandate include interventions to restore access to education in Darfur. EI has also lobbied countries of the UN Security Council to ask their support for a stronger UN mandate in Darfur.

In the letter to President Omar al Bashir, EI refers to the current situation in Darfur as genocide. Since 2003, at least 200,000 people have been killed; more than 2.5 million innocent civilians have been displaced in refugee camps.

More than 3.5 million people, the majority of whom are women and children, are completely reliant on international aid for survival. Furthermore, conditions in the camps are such that children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to disease and death.

EI has tried numerous initiatives to monitor the situation in Darfur and to identify possible actions to alleviate the situation of civilians and to restore access to education in refugee camps and settlements. So far, the Sudanese authorities have systematically refused to grant EI access to the refugee camps.

EI’s letters to President Omar al Bashir and Kofi Annan are available, in English, below.

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His Excellency President Lieutenant-General

Omar al Bashir

President of Sudan

President's Palace, PO Box 281

Khartoum

SUDAN

Mr President,

Education International, the global union federation of teachers representing 30 million members in 166 countries, is deeply concerned by the continued killings of civilians in Sudan's war-torn western Darfur region, and by your statements that you will not allow the deployment of a United Nations' peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Education International strongly urges the Government of Sudan to accept the presence of the United Nations' peacekeeping force when the mandate of the African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur (AMIS) comes to an end.

The current situation in Darfur can be described as genocide. Since 2003, at least 200,000 people have been killed; more than 2.5 million innocent civilians have been displaced in refugee camps. More than 3.5 million people, a majority of whom are women and children, are completely reliant on international aid for survival. Further- more, conditions in the camps are such that children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to disease and death.

A strong UN presence in Darfur, with a clear mandate not only to protect civilians but also to provide emergency education and health programmes in refugee camps and settlements, would greatly help to alleviate the sufferings of civilians in Darfur.

Education International has also written to the United Nations Secretary General in support of the view that the UN mandate in Darfur should include interventions to re-introduce education as soon as possible, as well as measures to meet the psychosocial needs of children and adolescents traumatized and displaced by the conflict. Education is a crucial factor in bringing peace and stability and in breaking a continuing cycle of conflict, revenge and instability.

Education International therefore strongly urges the Government of Sudan to accept the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, a force that would be properly resourced and with a robust mandate to protect civilians and restore access to education.

Education International and its affiliates worldwide will continue to monitor the situation in Darfur.

Fred van Leeuwen

General Secretary

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United Nations Secretary-General

Kofi A. Annan

UN Headquarters

First Avenue at 46th Street

New York NY 10017

USA

Dear Secretary-General,

Education International, the global union federation of teachers representing 30 million members in 166 countries, is deeply concerned by the continued killings of civilians in Sudan's war-torn western Darfur region. The deployment in Darfur of a United Nations’ peacekeeping force, a force with a robust mandate, is essential, and Education International adds its voice to others in support of the United Nations efforts to acomplish this.

Education International believes that the mandate of the United Nations’ peacekeeping force in Darfur should include the provision of emergency education programmes in refugee camps and settlements. The UN mandate in Darfur should also include measures to meet the psychosocial needs of children and adolescents affected by trauma and displacement. Education is a crucial factor in bringing peace and stability and in breaking a continuing cycle of conflict, revenge and instability.

Education International fully supports UNESCO's effort to promote inter-agency co-operation and co-ordination, at international and field level, to restore access to education in emergency situations and to help governments and communities to rebuild their education systems with a focus on curriculum, textbooks, teacher education and community participation.

The provision of medical services is also a critical issue, with children and elders being especially vulnerable to disease resulting in death due to lack of toilets and clean water in the camps.

Education International has also written to His Excellency President Lieutenant-General Omar al Bashir to strongly urge the Government of Sudan to accept the presence of a UN peacekeeping force.

The 348 member organisations of Education International worldwide have mandated us to monitor the situation in Darfur and to undertake actions to alleviate the situation of civilians and to restore access to education in refugee camps and settlements to the greatest extent possible.

Sincerely yours,

Fred van Leeuwen

General Secretary

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