El Kurmuk / El Damazin — On Tuesday, 103 students sat for the basic school examination in El Kurmuk, a town on the border of Sudan's Blue Nile state with Ethiopia. It is the first time students in the area have taken the exam since 1998.
At the same time, 135 nomadic students sat for the basic school exam at El Zahraa school in the state capital of El Damazin.
In a statement following the exam sessions, Deputy Governor Abdelrahman Bilal Beleid said that "these students sitting for the basic exams are evidence of the expansion of security and peace in Blue Nile".
In his statement, the deputy governor said that "the presence of children of nomads and returnees in the examinations confirms the state government's interest and keenness to create a school environment for all segments of the state".
Continuous conflict and displacement in the area left it isolated and inaccessible to aid agencies for many years. In April 2017, the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) was granted access to a few hard-to-reach areas including El Kurmuk.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan reported in its humanitarian bulletin that Unicef began working with government authorities, state officials and partners to bring long overdue assistance, including child protection, education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation services to the vulnerable communities in the newly reached areas.
In Blue Nile State, Unicef, through the State Ministry of Health (SMoH) managed to assign additional staff to El Kurmuk hospital and provided health centres with medical supplies enough for two-months. In addition to two mobile clinics that serve about 15 villages Unicef-in coordination with SMoH-plans to train 100 healthcare providers and community health workers, including midwives. Through Unicef support, the SMoH conducted training for 16 nutrition care providers and established four supplementary feeding programmes.
Unicef is also assisting in the rehabilitation and construction of 10 schools in these areas and will provide school supplies, benefitting 2,855 children. Aid organisations-with Unicef support-distributed chlorine tablets in Dindiro town for household water treatment, and installed two water bladders (with a capacity of 10,000 litres each). This is in addition to 260 barrels of water to that are trucked in daily, benefitting 10,000 people in the town. In Dindiro, El Kurmuk town, Jurut East, Jurut West and Bulang, Unicef, IRW and WES have started rehabilitating 20 hand pumps.
There were also 105 separated and unaccompanied children in Bulang, Dindiro, Jurut East, Jurut West and El Kurmuk town who received assistance. The children were placed with families-who were trained on alternative care measures and psychosocial support-and were provided with plastic sheets and sitting mats. The children were also provided with birth registration services and medical insurance.