Hundreds of Thousands of Children Face Humanitarian Disaster in South Sudan, says UNICEF

Unless the humanitarian situation inside South Sudan improves rapidly for children and families, nearly a million people—mostly women and children—will face an even greater crisis both inside the South Sudan and in neighboring countries, UNICEF said today

NEW YORK (March 26, 2014) – Unless the humanitarian situation inside South Sudan improves rapidly for children and families, nearly a million people—mostly women and children—will face an even greater crisis both inside the South Sudan and in neighboring countries, UNICEF said today. 

 “With the annual rains fast approaching, the clock is ticking louder and louder towards a humanitarian disaster for children in South Sudan,” said Yasmin Haque, UNICEF's Deputy Director of Emergency Programs who has just returned from South Sudan.

“The people we met in Nyal in Unity State sought refuge on small islands surrounded by water. They had not eaten a decent meal in about 75 days and were barely surviving on palm nuts, wild roots and lily stems and seeds. Some were trying to weave nets to fish. Young children were in a desperate state; some had to run for their lives and had been separated from their families in the process. It was very sad to witness.”

A quarter of a million South Sudanese have fled to neighboring countries—Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya—to escape the fighting and seek help. An additional 700,000 people are displaced within South Sudan. The great majority of those in need are children and women.

The onset of rains makes much of the country unreachable by road, which makes it much harder and far more costly to get life-saving supplies to people by air when roads become impassable. Shelter, poor sanitation and water borne diseases place further strain on overcrowded areas both inside South Sudan and in surrounding countries.

“On top of the violence and violations that children have suffered for nearly 100 days, they are now at greater risk than ever of disease and malnutrition. Time is running out for the children of the world’s newest nation. We need better resources, better access, peace and security. Children cannot wait,” said Haque. 

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About UNICEF
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.   

For additional information, please contact:

Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org