One Year into Conflict, Children under Daily Threat in South Sudan
The future for a generation of children in South Sudan is being stolen by the year-long conflict in the country
NEW YORK (December 12, 2014) – The future for a generation of children in South Sudan is being stolen by the year-long conflict in the country, which has driven hundreds of thousands of them from their homes, schools and communities. Children have been subjected to violence, malnutrition and disease, UNICEF said today.
The scale of the crisis in the world’s youngest country is staggering, said the children’s agency. Since the violence erupted on December 15, 2013, nearly 750,000 children have been internally displaced and more than 320,000 are living as refugees. An estimated 400,000 children have been forced out of school and 12,000 are reported as being used by armed forces and groups in the conflict. With traditional social structures damaged, children are also increasingly vulnerable to violence and to sexual abuse and exploitation.
“The future of South Sudan’s children—and of the country itself—is being grossly undermined by the ongoing fighting,” said Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan. “We will continue our enormous relief operation targeting hundreds of thousands of children, but what they need more than anything, is peace.”
Malnutrition rates among children have more than doubled as a result of the conflict. In response, UNICEF has scaled up its nutrition programs and brought on additional partners to help with the expanded caseload. So far, more than 80,000 severely acutely malnourished children have been received therapeutic treatment. And while South Sudan avoided falling into famine this year, the country is likely to face a much more devastating food crisis unless there is peace and stability in early 2015.
As the end of the rainy season improves access on South Sudan’s dirt roads, UNICEF is pre-positioning lifesaving supplies at key locations, strengthening its emergency response in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile—the three contested states where needs are most acute.
UNICEF and the World Food Programme Rapid Response Missions are also reaching communities in the most remote areas by air, delivering a range of critical services. The missions provide screening and treatment of children for malnutrition as well as safe water and sanitation. Children are immunized, and separated children are registered so they can be reunited with their families. Where possible, basic education and psychological support is provided. So far, more than 590,000 people have been helped, including 125,000 children under the age of five, in 34 joint missions.
With education interrupted for a great number of children, UNICEF’s “Back to Learning” initiative aims to rehabilitate 225 damaged classrooms and provide the estimated 400,000 children forced out of school with access to education. UNICEF is also working with the Government to include peacebuilding programs in the national curriculum.
“We must seize the opportunity the dry season affords us,” said UNICEF’s Veitch. “Any humanitarian gains we make, however, are extremely precarious. Should the fighting intensify, as many fear, this will trigger yet more large-scale displacements and deepen the vulnerability of already exhausted communities and their children.”
UNICEF will require approximately $166 million to fund its South Sudan emergency response in 2015.
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About UNICEFThe United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by 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 no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
For more information, contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, email@example.com