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In visit to Sudan, UNFPA Executive Director commends progress in transition to democracy, says continued support of international community remains critical

Khartoum, 21 March 2021 - Wrapping up a 5-day visit to Sudan, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem congratulated the transitional government and people of Sudan for the democratic transition under way in the country. 

“Less than two years after the transition, remarkable progress has been made towards meeting the aspirations of the people of Sudan,” she said, stressing the importance of ongoing international support for the country.

Dr. Kanem commended the women and young people of Sudan for standing up for democracy, peace and human rights for all. “The face of the transition is female and it is young. Investing in women and young people is an investment in the nation, an investment in the future, and a driver for peace and development,” she said. 

In Sudan, young people below the age of 30 constitute two-thirds of the population. With skills in mediation, reconciliation and negotiation, they can assume leadership roles as peacebuilders. 

During her visit, Dr. Kanem met with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdock, as well as other Ministers and officials from the United Nations and donor governments, and representatives from civil society. Discussions centred on ensuring a coordinated approach to supporting the transitional Government and the people of Sudan. 

Dr. Kanem applauded recent steps that support the human rights of women and girls: the adoption of legislation to criminalize female genital mutilation, the repeal of morality laws that restricted women’s freedom and movement, the adoption of the first national standard operating procedures for preventing and responding to gender-based violence and the establishment of the nation’s first GBV helpline.

As the UN humanitarian champion for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment, she met with the team dedicated to the issue in Sudan to discuss priorities, accountability and efforts to make zero tolerance a reality.

On a visit to Damazine in Blue Nile State, an area with a high maternal mortality rate, Dr. Kanem talked to women from the community,  midwives, community leaders, sheikhs and women’s groups and visited the hospital and family planning clinic. “My favorite part of the day was handing over the keys to a tricycle ambulance, called a tuk tuk here in Sudan, to an empowered woman of that community,” said Kanem. The ambulances will get pregnant women to hospitals to save lives.

D. Kanem stressed the right to health and the right to plan a family. “Family planning is central to gender equality, women’s empowerment, and the prosperity of individuals, families and communities.”

UNFPA’s Executive Director sent a message to the adolescent girls of Sudan. “UNFPA is here to support a future where you can say ‘my body is my own’, where you have the right to make your own life decisions and can fulfill your dreams.”

Dr. Kanem thanked the Government and people of Sudan for their generosity in hosting and welcoming refugees from neighbouring countries. 

The humanitarian response in Sudan requires at least $1.9 billion. UNFPA estimates that over $50 million is required to provide reproductive healthcare and women’s protection services through the end of 2021. 

The UNFPA Executive Director stressed that supporting the country’s transition requires advancing sustainable development, addressing a humanitarian crisis and the continued engagement of the international community. “Sudan’s pursuit of prosperity should be met with international solidarity,” she said.

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Please see below

Photos from the Blue Nile State maternity ward visit here

Photos from the ED’s visit to the Shanisha community in Sudan's Blue Nile State here 

For enquiries and more information:

In Cairo: Samir Aldarabi, Regional Media Adviser for the United Nations Population Fund for the Arab States Region:  +201068484879, aldarabi@unfpa.org 

In Sudan: Sufian Abdul-Mouty, Communication Specialist for the United Nations Population Fund Country Office in Sudan: +963991332771 - abdul-mouty@unfpa.org