The United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force to Darfur (UNAMID) was deployed on 31 December 2007, but little has changed for the children of the region. Since December there have been a number of attacks by government forces and armed militia.
Each attack has left men, women and children dead and displaced. Obstructions to the effective deployment of UNAMID by the Government of Sudan and armed groups have continued.
The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which provides the legal framework within which UNAMID operates, was signed on 9 February 2008 by the Government of Sudan and UNAMID. The force, however, still suffers from inadequate military hardware and human resources and it is not yet effectively protecting civilians.
A generation of Darfuris is growing up in extreme fear and insecurity. Of the four million people affected by the conflict in Darfur, 1.8 million are children under 18.
Of the 2.3 million people who have been displaced, one million are children. Since April 2006, the conflict has created 120,000 newly displaced children.
In February 2008, Sudanese forces and government-backed militias attacked villages in West Darfur. 800 children between the ages of 12 and 18 were left unaccounted for by the attacks.
This April, children in Darfur reaching their fifth birthdays will have never known peace. This marks five years in which the international community has failed to respond adequately to the scale of the crisis.
Many of the children living in the camps are traumatized by what they have seen. Children outside the camps live in fear of attacks on their villages. Schools have been burnt down.
The children in the camps and outside the camps are facing an uncertain future and some are recruited, forcibly or willingly, to serve as child soldiers. The climate of fear, rising domestic and sexual violence and uncertainty is compromising their security today. The lack of access to education is jeopardizing their future.