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Sudan Situation Report, 03 Dec 2020 [AR/EN]

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  • UNHCR and COR have registered over 47,000 Ethiopian refugees in Kassala, Gedaref, and Blue Nile states.

  • Over 10,000 refugees have been relocated from the border areas to Um Raquba Camp.

  • UN online volunteers save the day by translating the Sudan school database in record time.

  • With CERF funding, WFP is supporting 31 nutrition centres in Khartoum where malnourished children, and pregnant and nursing women are receiving assistance.

  • Sudan is now in its second wave of COVID-19 with over 19,000 people testing positive and 1,290 fatalities as of 3 December, reports the Ministry of Health.

UN online volunteers save the day!

Mammoth translation of 20,000 school names enable humanitarian and development partners to work together to help children across Sudan

With the help of the United Nations Online Volunteer programme, OCHA Sudan was able to translate the names of some 20,000 schools in Sudan in a record three weeks. The project will help the Sudan Ministry of Education and the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) effectively plan education programmes to ensure resources are effectively used.

Importance of translation in humanitarian operations

The translation of documents is important to engage partners in humanitarian action as not all partners work in the same language. UN agencies and international NGO work tend to work in English while national NGOs, community-based organizations, and local authorities work in the language of the country. During a humanitarian crisis, it is important to ensure that all partners work together to ensure there is no duplication of activities and that resources are used most efficiently. More translation is needed as coordination without communication undermines the values of transparency and accountability to communities and donors. Having documents available in different languages allows for this. It also improves messaging and ensures that the humanitarian community, local, regional and international, and the people being supported are aware of the major issues and concerns, as well as needs, response and gaps in humanitarian assistance.

Sudan is facing increased humanitarian needs related to COVID-19, an economic crisis, and unprecedented floods. More and more documents, reports, infographics and databases needed translation and OCHA needed to find a way to quickly and efficiently respond to translation requests. We reached out to the UN Online Volunteers programme to start for the first time an online translation project which would allow OCHA to meet its translation requests and for partners to meet their translation needs. It was also an opportunity for volunteers to improve their translation skills while enhancing their opportunities for future online jobs. At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted working modalities throughout the world, this new and innovative method of work ensures that work continues in these uncertain times.

UN volunteer programme, what it does

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme promotes volunteerism and contributes to peace and development worldwide by mobilizing volunteers and advocating for volunteerism. UNV Online Volunteering is a platform for organizations and volunteers to connect and expand their networks. It allows organizations and volunteers to team up to address sustainable development challenges - anywhere in the world, from any device. Online volunteering is fast, easy and most of all, effective. It also allows volunteers to develop their skills and take on new roles that their professional life may not necessarily provide. Organizations collaborate with people of different backgrounds from all over the world and become part of a global online community of peers who all share the goal of advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

How OCHA used the UN online volunteer programme

OCHA plays a pivotal role in facilitating coordination between humanitarian partners. OCHA Sudan was approached by UNICEF to assist in the translation and transliteration of a database provided by the Sudan Ministry of Education of the names of all basic schools, some 20,000 schools. The translation and digitization of the database will lead to a more efficient delivery of education assistance and the establishment of a more efficient electronically enabled government. Due to the vastness of the task and limited translation capacity, OCHA reached out to the UN Online Volunteers programme and recruited a team of 25 volunteers. The translators came from a variety of backgrounds - fresh graduates, academics and professionals who wanted to volunteer in their spare time. About three quarters of the volunteers were women. They worked online from several countries including Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Sudan, Malawi and the United Arab Emirates.

Meet our volunteers

Wahid Kamalian is one of the few male volunteers who worked on the project from his home in the United Arab Emirates. He graduated from law school and works in an asset management firm. He registered in the UN Online Volunteer’s program because he is passionate about volunteering and in helping vulnerable people as their countries strive to reach sustainable development goals. “When I came across the volunteering opportunity with UN OCHA, I was extremely excited to join and proactively serve with like-minded individuals,” Wahid said. He plans to use the skills gained through the volunteer program in his professional career and to create social impact. “I enjoy working with diverse teams, particularly working on projects that can create significant social impact. For this project, I created a plan of action and implemented it to make the process more efficient and took the lead in managing data streams from 25 volunteers and ensuring the deliverable was submitted on time. I am eagerly looking forward to other similar projects,” Wahid said. “I learned a lot from the experienced and dedicated volunteers that I had the privilege to work with. I strongly recommend volunteering with the UN to all professionals interested in utilizing their skills in a meaningful manner to help countries develop and create social impact,” said Wahid about his experience working on the project.

Ahd Mohamed Musa is a Sudanese national who works for a non-government organization (NGO) in Malawi as a deputy field coordinator. She has a master’s degree in translation and was introduced to volunteering in 2009, working with national NGOs in Sudan. “It has always been my goal to contribute my time and effort toward bettering the lives of others and working for political, social and economic change,” Ahd said. When she came across the UN Online volunteers programme, she immediately knew that this is what she wanted to do in her spare time. Her experience as a UN online volunteer has been very rewarding allowing her to get to know people with diverse backgrounds. “I was able to learn from their experiences and teach them mine. During the work, we made mistakes but learned from those mistakes. It was a journey of discovering who I truly am, helping me evolve as a person.” Apart from the importance of translating the Sudan school database, she was happy that she was supporting in the development of her country.

Ilham El Omrani lives in Morocco and graduated with a university degree in engineering this year. One week after graduation Ilham was bored. This was the first time in five years when she had nothing to do. Ilham started searching online for opportunities to help occupy her time while looking for a job and came across the UN Online Volunteer programme. She applied but did not think she was qualified or had enough experience to work as a UN online volunteer, so she was ecstatic when she was accepted for the OCHA Sudan school database project. This was not the first time Ilham had volunteered, last year she volunteered as a translator and reviewer for an NGO. Her experience with the Sudan school database project was very rewarding. “It was a journey of learning. I started learning many things, such as the translation cycle, the difference between editing and proofreading, how to get the most out of machine translation, and much more,” Ilham said. “I also had the privilege to work in a team from different countries and different backgrounds. I learnt how to work remotely and how to communicate effectively through meeting platforms.” The experience changed Ilham’s perspective of translation and linguistics. “I would definitely do it again and I would recommend it to my friends,” she said.

Importance of the translation to the education sector

For the Sudan education sector, the translation of the Sudan school database was important to ensure that the education in emergencies response is carried out in an efficient and timely manner. The Sudan education sector, co-led by UNICEF and the Federal Ministry of Education, works with 46 partners, some of whom work in Arabic. “By translating the names of the schools to have both English and Arabic versions and by appointing each school with an identification code, we ensure that education activities are not duplicated and that any potential gaps in the response are identified. This ensures that funding is stretched to reach the maximum number of schools, benefiting as many children as possible, with the children most in need prioritized,” said Julienne Vipond, UNICEF Sudan education sector lead.

The severity of education needs in Sudan is high. Before the COVID-19 school closures, more than 4 million basic and secondary-school aged children (ages 6 to 16 years) were out of school, many of whom live in the most vulnerable or conflict-affected communities. With COVID-19, an additional 9 million children have been out of school. To ensure that when schools re-open they will be adequately equipped to provide a safe learning environment for children, significant humanitarian assistance is required. In Sudan, approximately 30 per cent of schools do not have functional latrines and fewer than 50 per cent of schoolchildren have access to soap and water for handwashing at school.

How to become a UN online volunteer

To become a UN online volunteer is easy. Register on the UN Online Volunteers programme and choose which projects you would like to be involved in from the nine categories available. For more information go to the UN online Volunteer website.


Ethiopian refugee influx into Sudan continues

Key figures:

  • 48,992 refugees registered (6 December, UNHCR)

  • $147 million needed to respond to the urgent needs of up to 100,000 Ethiopian refugees for six months

  • 11,294 refugees relocated from Hamdayet and Abdrafi border crossings to Um Raquba refugee camp


Since 9 November, Ethiopian asylum seekers have been arriving in eastern Sudan, fleeing a military escalation in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. Refugees are arriving in three locations along the border with Ethiopia in eastern Sudan, Hamdayet in Kassala State, Ludgi and Abderafi in Gedaref State and to a lesser extent into Wad Al Mahi locality in Blue Nile State. Refugees arrive exhausted from their long trek, with few belongings and need assistance. The Government of Sudan has kept its borders open to the refugee and hosting communities are supporting and sharing their resources with the new refugee arrivals. UNHCR and the Government’s Commission for Refugees (COR) are taking the lead on preparedness and response. They have developed an inter-agency contingency plan which will support the new refugees.

Upon arrival in Sudan the refugees are temporarily hosted in reception centres located near the border entry points, where local authorities screen and register them. At these border points refugees are provided with food, drinking water, health services, and some shelter materials for their protection. Partners are also providing the refugees with psychosocial support and nutrition services at the reception centres. COR estimates that 57 per cent of the new arrivals in Hamdayet are men and 43 per cent women, while 45 per cent are under the age of 18 and 4 per cent are elderly over the age of 60.

COVID-19 precautions are being taken into account. Temperature screenings are in place for new arrivals at Hamdayet. UNHCR is distributing soaps and masks to new arrivals at transit centres, while social distancing is practiced at the registration areas, ensuring that there is a two-metre space between the refugees. In Hamdayet, UNHCR carried out COVID-19 awareness sessions on prevention measures, as well as safe water chain and food handling.

Once the refugees are registered UNHCR and partners relocate them to Um Raquba Camp where they are provided with mats, blankets, and materials to construct shelters. WFP provides the refugees with 30-day food rations upon their transportation to Um Raquba and supports pregnant and nursing mothers with nutrition assistance. As Um Raquba reaches its capacity of 6,500 people, the Sudanese Government has identified another site — a former Ethiopian refugee camp — which can accommodate up to 7,500 people. The government also indicated its willingness to allocate additional land, if needed.


The Refugee Consultation Forum (RCF) launched an Inter-agency Emergency Refugee Response Plan to respond to the refugee influx into Sudan, with an $147 million appeal to meet the urgent needs of the new refugees. It brings together a multi-sectoral response with over 30 partners (UN agencies, national and international NGOs) covering an initial period of eight months from November 2020 until June 2021, with a likely scenario for 100,000 people and a worst-case scenario planning for 200,000 people.

UNHCR, COR as well as national and international partners are responding to the needs of the refugees at transit sites and camps. For details on response and gaps please visit the UNHCR Sudan refugee situation operational portal.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit