A sweet cup of coffee in Jemareek market in Ag Geneina
If you stop by the Jemareek Market in Ag Geneina, capital West of Darfur State, and sit on plastic chairs under a large tree, a 10-year-old girl would come up to you asking what you would like to have: a cup of tea or coffee. Amina (not her real name) would listen carefully to what you want and go to Zahra Arbab, a tea lady at the market, to fetch you a hot cup of coffee with ginger and spices or tea with mint.
One would think that Amina is Zahra’s daughter, and when asked if Amina’s school has re-opened and whether she is back to school—while all schools in the eight localities in the state should have re-opened on 7 March, some schools were unable to resume classes due to the occupation of buildings by IDPs—it turns out that they are not related. Zahra employs Amina as a tea girl, helping her serve customers tea, washing utensils, fetching water and cleaning chairs.
Very often they find it difficult to communicate as they speak different languages. Amina does not speak or understand Arabic. Zahra is from the Fur tribe and originally from Zalingei, in Central Darfur, while Amina is a Masalit, originally from Gokar, a village within Ag Geneina locality in West Darfur. Amina was displaced, together with her mother and grandmother, to Chad, but returned to Ag Geneina internally displaced persons (IDP) camps with her grandmother six months ago. Her mother remained in Chad and her father died. Meanwhile, her grandmother returned to their village of origin in Gokar two months ago leaving Halima behind in Ag Geneina Town.
Zahra does not know who Halima lives with; she assumes Amina must reside with some relatives. Amina was not willing to disclose the nature of relationship with the people she currently lives with in Ag Geneina. It is unclear who receives the SDG 300 that she is paid daily. Amina believes her grandmother will come back for her someday. The little girl has never been to school in her village of origin, or in Chad nor now in Ag Geneina.
Partners working in child protection have registered 73 unaccompanied or separated children in Ag Geneina and surrounding villages that were affected by inter-communal conflict in January, which displaced about 108,500 people (22,250 families) to Ag Geneina Town and surrounding villages. As of 24 March, child protection partners have reunited 21 children with their families. Efforts are underway to trace the families of the remaining 52 children who are now in foster care among families within their communities. The children receive psychosocial support, including counselling, despite the minimal resources that the child protection partners are operating with.
According to the latest update from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Sudan Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) there are about 1,100 child-headed households and 190 unaccompanied minors in and around Ag Geneina. If not protected, these children are at a high risk of abuse, exploitation, violence and neglect. Child protection partners continue to engage in the response including government authorities, UNICEF, Save the Children, War child Canada and Child Development foundation. Organizations are facing problems of limited funding for child protection response and about $850,000 is needed to meet the immediate protection needs of children and adolescents.