Most schools still closed following North Darfur tribal violence

Radio Dabanga, July 6, 2013


As a result of the tribal violence between the Beni Hussein and Abbala tribes, not one of the 48 schools in Al Sareif Beni Hussein locality in North Darfur is fully operational.

The two tribes fought violently earlier this year over control of the Jebel ‘Amer gold mine in Al Sareif Beni Hussein locality, leaving about 500 people dead and more than 100,000 displaced, according to UN estimates. Violence has subsequently flared-up sporadically between the tribes, disrupting social and commercial life in the area.

A teacher from the locality told Radio Dabanga on Friday that the schools have been subjected to sabotage, including arson and looting of their furniture, and some have been abandoned by residents who have been forcibly displaced from rural areas to Al Sareif city.

“Despite the beginning of the school year in the state of North Darfur, the schools of the locality are still closed with the exception of only two high schools and two basic schools. No others have thus far opened to receive students.”

The teacher explained that efforts by the locality’s Department of Education are under way for drawing-up plans to accommodate between 8,000 and 10,000 students and pupils in seven large gathering sites in Al Sareif.

“As a result of the war, most pupils and students of the basic and secondary stages have not written exams, despite the beginning of the new school year,” the teacher said. “Only eighth graders of the basic stage and the third graders of high school actually wrote exams.”

The teacher appealed to the Ministry of Education and the State of North Darfur to immediately intervene and find “special exceptional solutions” for the locality for this year.

Travel and logistics in the area are still difficult. Reportedly no commercial vehicles or passengers from Saraf Omra, the only outlet for the transfer of goods and commodities, have reached Al Sareif Beni Hussein for (15) days; as the roads are “still closed by Abbala militants”.

Witnesses from Al Sareif city spoke to Radio Dabanga describing the humanitarian and economic situation in the town as “dire”.

“About 13,000 families displaced from the villages of the locality have been crowded into the town, which is threatened by an outbreak of jaundice and other autumn diseases,” they warned, highlighting that the only hospital in the town has a shortage of medicines and staff, while the displaced have no means of shelter during the rainy season.