Report on the work of SVP in Sudan – July ’11


By Ian Mawdsley, Member of the International Relations

Committee, Responsible for Sudan, SVP (England & Wales)

(Abbreviated edition)

The most significant event recently was that SVP Sudan National Secretary, Kamal announced his intention to retire in September this year and move to Australia where he and his wife Madeleine plan to spend their retirement with their daughter and her family. This is not surprising since they have been sorely missed after Maria Louise moved from Khartoum to Australia with her family to take up a position as a doctor. Kamal has been preparing his staff for a number of years and will be succeeded by John Ugo Gambolon, his former deputy:

John Ugo Gambolon

  • Age: 42
  • Place of birth: Juba, at the Sudanese/Uganda border.
  • Ethnic group: Madi.
  • Catholic
  • Married, 5 children
  • Speaks English

John is highly qualified with a PHD in Economics (His thesis: The impact of the economic policies on the development of the private sector, particularly in the South). John joined SVP in 1999. Before being Kamal’s deputy, he was in charge of the finance in SVP. He previously worked with the local government in Juba in the early eighties. John will be assisted by Betram Kuol Gordon, Executive Manager in Khartoum and project coordinator in Juba.

Currently there are 3 significant challenges which are affecting to work of the SVP in Sudan and need to be considered:

1. The changing political scene and the return of displaced people to the south.

2. The secession of the south and formation of South Sudan.

3. Changes in staffing and resources in the SVP National Office in Khartoum.

In short, southerners are either voluntarily or being forced to return south. The problem is that South Sudan does not have the infrastructure in terms of roads, utilities, medical services or education to support mass migration. Once people travel south and find this situation they are trapped as they will not be allowed to return the north. It is reported that the situation with street children now in South Sudan resembles exactly those who had been in Khartoum in 1986, when SVP started the street children program.

The SVP in Sudan is not immune from world economic problems. Oil and basic commodity prices together with fluctuating interest rates and very high inflation are all having an impact. The financial situation of the SVP is continually under pressure. In one week recently, the exchange rate against the euro went from 1€ / 3.1 SD (Sudanese Dinar) to around 4 SD within the official banking system.

This devaluation was officially announced as a temporary measure, but is good news for donors, since we gain 29% more purchasing power. There are two drawbacks: no one knows how long this situation will last, and the rise in the price of imported goods as a result will have an overall inflationary effect.

The situation in Sudan means that huge numbers of the population need support in terms of the basic necessities of life. The situation is unlikely to be resolved by the present generation. The only change is likely to be a shift in the geographic area which is inhabited by those people in need of support. One thing will not change; in the areas around Khartoum and El Obeid the people we’ve been helping previously who choose to migrate to South Sudan will be replaced by the huge numbers of people who, previously we’ve not been able to support. No matter how much money is applied to the problem – still more will be required. There is a huge danger that people in the UK seem to think that with secession the problem has been solved.

The birth of a nation is always a momentous event. All the more so when the gestation has been scarred by 50 years of civil war in which an estimated 2.5 million people have died. In a day the 10 states of southern Sudan severed their ties with the Muslim-dominated north to become the 193rd country recognised by the United Nations. Achievement of sovereignty follows a referendum last January that recorded an almost unanimous desire for independence.

The challenges ahead:

• One of world’s least developed countries: Worst maternal mortality rate; most children below

13 not in school; 84% of women are illiterate

• Relations with Sudan: Dividing debts and oil; border disputes; citizenship

• Security: At least seven active rebel groups

It has been generally agreed for the present that although a new country has been established the SVP will remain as one for the time being.

Twinnage – We currently have 134 twins in Khartoum Archdiocese, 11 in or around El Obeid, 20 in or around Juba (South Sudan) and giving a total of 165.

The SVP in El Obeid – Extracts from reports by Sister Jean Thomas:

In El Obeid, we have had to part with many of our Southern families, who have joined in with the convoys moving out. There is a general atmosphere of fear and insecurity in the country, even among the Muslim population. No-one knows exactly how events will evolve. The crucial issue is that nearly all the petrol of Sudan is to be found in the South, and it is feared that the reaction of the North will be violent.“Crisis management” courses have been introduced in the Church dioceses, but have done little to allay the fears of the majority.

The SVP in South Sudan

It is reported that large numbers of the population who had been displaced to the Khartoum area are now moving back to the south (some at the insistence of the Khartoum Government). It is generally felt that when they arrive back they are going to be faced with a critical situation where there is little in terms of infrastructure, roads, water, power supply, housing, medical facilities, communications, law & order, schools, churches etc. This is going to exert considerable pressure on the SVP; the bad news turned into good could be that some of the former employees of the SVP in Khartoum could put their newly acquired talents to good use by developing similar support in the south. This is already happening at Luluggu in Juba where the delivery of the modern competency based theoretical and practical vocational skills training courses are providing training and community development for substantial numbers of the population and are modelled on the proven success of the centres around Khartoum.

The SVP in Khartoum

The SVP in Khartoum continues to deliver services to the displaced population. A summary of the key support services delivered to hundreds of thousands of displaced people, and the overall total budget for all operations in Sudan for the coming year is €1.8 million as follows:

Street children 684,162
Baby feeding352,008
Vocational training 100,000

We are doing our best to provide material support and encouragement; we have to change our strategy to ensure continuity. We are doing good deeds – we need to redouble our effort by increasing prayer.

Please help us to continue our work; your prayers and donations are vital for the people of Sudan.

For a full edition of this report please email a request to For briefing documents giving further detailed information on these initiatives please visit the SVP Twinnage website: