Situation Report
DSR 25 June Song contest at Al Waral refugee camp White Nile State UNHCR-Zola
Song contest at Waral refugee camp, White Nile State (UNHCR, 2020)

UNHCR’s COVID-19 campaign turns refugee girls into radio stars

“Maaama, Maaama, wash your hands!” The girls in Al Waral refugee camp in Sudan’s White Nile State are enjoying themselves. Now that the stage fright is overcome, their voices are loud and clear: “Corooona, Corooona is not good!”

The event is part of the community engagement by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Over the past weeks, more than 120 refugee girls and boys, many dressed in colourful traditional clothes from South Sudan, participated in song contests in all nine camps in White Nile State. To allow for physical distancing, the gatherings were small, but inspiring.

The children’s creativity made them sing, rhyme, and even rap. Organized by UNHCR together with the Commission for Refugees and the international NGO Plan International, the song contests raised awareness in the crowded camps about how refugees can protect themselves and those around them. Nearly 60 per cent of the inhabitants of White Nile’s camps are children – 93,000 girls and boys. And who could reach them better than other children?

The big exciting day for the participants came on June 20, World Refugee Day (WRD), as the best songs from the contest went on air on Radio White Nile. Refugee boys and girls became radio stars, and many more people could hear their raps, rhymes and songs. For over a week, three times a day, the clear voices of the children will be heard on the radio in camps (AM 1584) and in the nearby villages (FM 98). UNHCR’s campaign targets refugees and nearby local resident communities. In addition, the radio station is planning longer programmes on COVID-19.

“Every boy and girl can make a difference, every radio spot counts,” said Kofi Dwomo, UNHCR’s head of sub-office in Kosti, alluding to this year’s World Refugee Day motto: Everyone can make a difference, every action counts.