Підтримка дітей та підлітків, які постраждали внаслідок війни в Україні (Ukrainian) Supporting Children and Adolescents Affected by the War in Ukraine
By STARTTS – Service for…
On 15 April 2023, violent clashes broke out in Khartoum, between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The generals of these two factions are the President of Sudan (Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, of the SAF) and the Vice President of Sudan (Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo of the RSF). Dagalo was the leader of the Janjaweed militia during the War in Dafur, that started in 2003. Janjaweed committed multiple atrocities in Dafur, including rape, killings and genocide of non-Arab Dafurians. In 2013, Janjaweed fighters were rebranded as the RSF.
Burhan and Dagalo worked together in the past. In 2019, they joined forces to take over the government, which was then headed by President Omar al-Bashir. Following this, they entered into a civilian-military power-sharing agreement. But in 2021, the SAF and RSF worked together to remove the civilian component of the government. More recently, disagreements emerged between Burhan and Dagalo during negotiations on how to integrate the RSF into the SAF. The current violent conflict has emerged from a lack of agreement by the two generals about who would have ultimate control over the troops and what the future government of Sudan should look like.
Presently, Burhan is insisting that the military will have to share power with civilian politicians and that he will only hand over power to an elected government. Many are sceptical that these are his true intentions. Dagalo is currently presenting himself as representing the people of Sudan and being against the political elite from the Khartoum and Nile regions. He has some support from the Arab people of the Dafur and South Kordofan regions, but most non-Arab residents remain sceptical because of RSF’s/Janjaweed’s history of attacking civilians.
Fierce clashes, including air strikes, ground battles and heavy gunfire have been occurring in Khartoum, North Khartoum and Omdurman. Snipers are operating throughout Khartoum. There have also been clashes between SAF and RSF militias in the Dafur, Kordofan, Blue Nile and Gedarif regions.
As of 11 May 2023, more than 700 000 people in Sudan have been displaced internally or across borders into Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Libya and Egypt. Most of these refugees are experiencing extreme deprivation.
According to the World Health Organisation, 600 people have died and 5000 have been injured due to the conflict, however the true figures are likely much higher. Most hospitals are no longer operational. In Khartoum, for instance, only 16% of hospitals are operating at full capacity. Widespread looting of hospitals and other building is also taking place. Medicines are in short supply and many pharmacies have closed.
The UN World Food Programme has estimated that up to 2.5 million more Sudanese will experience acute food security over the coming months because of this conflict.
Witnesses have reported the suffering and death unfolding around them:
Work with the student to identify at least two school staff members who the student can reach out to throughout the school day if they are struggling.
Students who identify as Sudanese or South Sudanese are likely to be impacted by the current conflict. These students’ parents/guardians/grandparents likely migrated to Australia as refugees from the Second Sudanese Civil War that occurred between 1983 and 2005. South Sudan gained its independence in 2011 and many South Sudanese Australians may still have relatives caught up in the conflict in Sudan. Many South Sudanese people have now been forced to flee back to South Sudan, despite having rebuilt their lives in Sudan following the Second Sudanese Civil War.
Before April 2023, 800,000 South Sudanese lived in Sudan. In most cases, South Sudanese chose to live there because Sudan seemed to be a more stable country than South Sudan. Since the current conflict in Sudan erupted, the UNHCR has recorded that more than 90% of the 30,000 refugees fleeing to South Sudan, are South Sudanese.
In Australia, students may be directly or indirectly exposed to images, footage and audio of the atrocities occurring in Sudan leading to vicarious trauma symptoms including intrusive thoughts, difficulty concentrating and sleep disturbances.
Students are likely witnessing their parents/carers in a state of distress and grief about the situation in Sudan. The upsetting circumstances in many families may also lead to tension and conflict within the home, which adversely impacts on children.
There are currently Sudanese people in Australia on temporary work or student visas. Sudanese people on these visas are typically from Sudan, rather than South Sudan, and they may have school-aged children. People on these temporary visas are likely very fearful of being forced to return to Sudan at this time.
The conflict in Sudan has the potential to exacerbate instability in neighbouring countries, due to factors such as food insecurity, limited resources to accommodate Sudanese refugees and increased flows of weapons and armed personnel across borders. Families with links to these countries are likely very concerned about deteriorating security.
In high school settings, you may consider communicating with parents and guardians about your intention to make time during the school day to acknowledge the crisis unfolding in Sudan. This will give parents/guardians the opportunity to discuss any concerns with you about how such conversations will be handled. Ideally, a School Counsellor is present to co-facilitate these whole-class discussions. A class discussion may involve:
Students who are feeling overwhelmed by their reaction to the situation in Sudan may show signs or report symptoms of their distress in one or more of the following ways:
Many family members of students will be deeply affected by the crisis unfolding in Sudan. Many families will appreciate a phone call from the school (for instance, from a teacher or Community Liaison Officer), checking in with their welfare at this difficult time. It can be helpful to prepare parents/guardians via SMS ahead of time, that you will be calling and what the purpose of your call is. The staff member could ask the parent/guardian if they are happy to receive a follow-up phone call in a couple of weeks’ time to see how they are coping.
Schools can provide families with the Witness to War helpline (1800 845 198), STARTTS’ contact details (9646 6800), or offer to support them to make a referral for counselling at STARTTS.
As educators and counsellors, we are not immune to the impacts of trauma. You may find that the crisis in Sudan has affected you personally, perhaps through personal links to Sudan, triggering of previous traumas or through empathising with affected students, colleagues and community members. Some symptoms you may recognise in yourself include a change in appetite, sleep and/or mood, nightmares, intrusive imagery, trouble concentrating, memory problems, social withdrawal, increased sensitivity to violence and/or feelings of despair and hopelessness. There are several avenues through which you can seek support.
For more information or to request specialist consultation, professional learning or support for your school community, please visit our website or contact Rachelle Coe, Acting School Liaison Team Leader, email@example.com