A group of children at a IDP camp in Zalingei, west Darfur, Sudan 2007. Photo: UN Photo/Fred Noy. www.unmultimedia.org/photo/ Creative commons license.
Childrens rights in general
The current political and economic situation is affecting the fulfillment of a wide range of children’s rights. Besides economic hardships and poverty, the government's already meager expenditure on basic social services is expected to further decline. The global financial crisis has also affected the donors' ability to meet their earlier commitments made in Oslo in 2005. Moreover, the EC flow of funding to Sudan will be seriously affected in the future, as Sudan has not signed the revised Cotonou Agreement that calls for fight against impunity and promotion of criminal justice through the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Children have by far been one of the main victims of the prolonged periods of conflict and unrest in Sudan. The long history of conflicts in Sudan has resulted in wider forms of child rights violations besides inadequate livelihood systems, insufficient adult support, limited access to education, health care, and inadequate physical environment. Moreover, although the north-south conflict has ended, the scars remain, having a negative impact on a wide spectrum of children’s rights. Family support to children is insufficient and government policies do not adequately address the country's socio-economic problems, and the issues of poverty and displacement.
Discrimination against children
Discrimination against children exists in Sudan due to a number of reasons, which can be classified based on gender, disability and ethnicity. The cultural beliefs, misconceptions and traditional harmful practices of physical and humiliating punishments (PHP) and female genital mutilation (FGM), early marriage, insufficient attention to girls’ education, limited support to poverty-stricken and marginalized families especially child and women headed households; children accompanying mothers in prisons, children born out of wedlock, existence of worst forms of child labor and in particular the phenomena of child soldiers in the on-going war in Darfur and other post conflict areas notably East, Blue Nile State and South Kordofan speaks for the dilapidated and adverse conditions of children living in Sudan.
Due to inadequate budgetary allocations to Child- protection or Child related ministries, there are massive gaps in basic social services provision for children. In addition to this, inadequate access to basic services as well as poor living conditions for both IDPs and refugee children is a common feature even in the capital Khartoum. Further, other child protection issues for children living in IDP sites in Khartoum include: unlawful detention, arbitrary arrest and harassment by Law Enforcing Agencies, exposure to violent/ inappropriate films, drug/substance abuse and sexual exploitation... However, the establishment and expansion of the Family and Child Protection Units under the Police forces and the final endorsement of the Child Act 2010 brings a lot of hope for child protection.
Survival and development
Infant mortality is 63/1,000 live births, under 5 mortality is around 93/1,000 births, maternal mortality 590/100,000 live birth, and access to a clean water source is very low. Although there is about 54% net, attendance ratio in education but rapid deterioration of the qualitative and quantitative aspects of education has resulted in about 50% school dropouts for children of school-going age.
Capacity and political will at the public sector
The government’s socio-economic policies until recently were devoid of child friendly national legislations and juvenile justice system is also weak. Government institutions lack strategic direction and proper planning which attribute to weak institutional and organizational capacity. Budgetary allocations for children remain very low compared to the size and scale of children’s needs in Sudan. The newly endorsed Child Act 2010 has to be widely disseminated and implemented as it enshrines the legal framework needed to realize children’s rights. However, it doesn’t criminalize practicing FGM as one of the severe child rights abuses. The official support to the national civil society is mainly selective and meager while the strengthening of civil society is key prerequisite to monitor children’s rights.