IDPs in Darfur get opportunity to share needs, concerns

Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - The UN Humanitarian office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Monday said that the humanitarian community in West Darfur has established a telephone hotline in an attempt to improve communications and to allow nearly 354,000 displaced people across 38 camps to share their needs and concerns.

Accessing communities and meeting their needs remain a major concern in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of people continue to be displaced by inter-communal violence. Many of them are living in displacement camps, in need of food, shelter and water.

“This mobile hotline system will transform the humanitarian response in camps by putting people in need of assistance at the heart of the response,” the OCHA bulletin quoted Esteban Sacco, OCHA’s coordinator in Darfur, as saying, adding that “As a result, humanitarian agencies will be more accountable to the actual needs of camp residents, in turn providing people with better services.”

It explained that the mobile system hotline provides a simple means by which people can notify relevant agencies of their problems.

On the other end of the line will be a referral officer, who will obtain details about the problems and ensure that they are quickly and effectively addressed.

The referral officer verifies the complaints, such as a broken water pump or a closed school, and then shares the information with the relevant humanitarian agency whose job is to resolve it.

“In the past, we would wait for weeks, even months for something like a broken water pump to be fixed,” it quoted Sarah, a camp resident, as saying. “Now, the water pump gets fixed in just a few days, and my children and I don’t have to walk 2 kilometres every day for weeks at a time to get our water.”

Although the purpose of the hotline is to encourage camp residents to share information and communicate their concerns, humanitarian organizations report that many residents are still unaware or unsure about using the hotline.

Many camp residents often resort to the traditional channels – using community leaders and Sheikhs to voice their concerns, who in turn call the hotline on their behalf.

“One of our biggest challenges has simply been getting people to use the hotline,” says Nabaelhanan Sadig, a referral officer. “More work must be done in schools, health clinics and around the whole camp community to make people aware of the hotline and its benefits.”

The humanitarian organziations are hoping that during the first week of December, the telephone hotline can be rolled out across all Darfur states, the bulletin stressed.
-0- PANA MO/VAO 2Dec2013

02 december 2013 15:40:21

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