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Northern Ireland: Primary schools take action on Darfur

Primary schools across Northern Ireland are holding special human rights lessons to mark the fourth anniversary of the deadly conflict in Darfur.

The schools are responding to a call by Amnesty International to lead special lessons which focus on the plight of refugees from Darfur. Over 300,000 people are believed to have lost their lives since the conflict erupted in 2003, while around two and a half million civilians have been displaced.

As part of the Lift Off initiative, led by Amnesty International and teachers' unions INTO and UTU, Children's rights as young as eight are learning about the worsening refugee crisis in Darfur. Pupils will be leading school assemblies and giving presentations to the whole school on the crisis.

Amnesty International's Mary Kerr, who coordinates the Lift Off project in Northern Ireland, said:

“The human cost of the conflict in Darfur is enormous with civilians - including many young Children's rights - suffering the most. Many have died and millions have been uprooted from their homes. This lesson, specially prepared by teachers here, will help young Children's rights understand and empathise with the plight of others.”

Brenda Gervin, a teacher at Primate Dixon Primary School in Coalisland, said:

“We thought that this was a wonderful opportunity to engage the Children's rights in the difficulties facing the Children's rights in Darfur. By drawing parallels with Jesus as a refugee in Egypt, we were able to relate the situation in Darfur to a story with which the Children's rights would be familiar.”

If you would like to involve your school in the Global Day for Darfur or find out more about human rights education, contact Mary Kerr at 028 9064 3000.


The Lift Off initiative is an exciting cross-border human rights education project for primary schools in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The partner organisations in this initiative are Amnesty International, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation and the Ulster Teachers’ Union.

Written by a team of experienced teachers from both sides of the border, the Lift Off teaching materials enable Children's rights at all levels of primary education to explore human rights and responsibilities, as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Child. The initiative aims to promote an understanding of human rights and responsibilities among teachers and to develop human rights education as an integral part of their work. It also aims to advise and support schools in developing a ‘whole school approach’ to their human rights education programmes.

Find out more about the Lift Off initiative

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