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Heartbreaking stories of South Sudan’s 10th year of independence

Juba, South Sudan

5 July, 2021– In spite of fighting for over 50 years for independence, the Republic of South Sudan, which will mark her 10th anniversary in 3 days, has recorded more ugly stories in the last ten years more than during the decades of civil war with the Arab North, and one of those ugly stories is that of growing number of children in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

South Sudanese refugees in an unidentified location (File photo)

According to the latest UNICEF report, which was released today, a record high of 4.5 million children or 2 out of every three children in South Sudan is in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

With nearly 7 out of 10 years spent in brutal civil war, the euphoria, high hopes and expectations that many citizens and sympathizers had for South Sudan, and especially for children, have slowly but surely vanished over the years.

According to the UNICEF report, in addition to conflicts and bouts of violence, South Sudan’s situation has been made worse by floods, droughts and extreme weather events fueled by climate change.

“Bouts of violence and conflict, recurring floods, droughts and other extreme weather events fueled by climate change, and a deepening economic crisis have led to extremely high food insecurity, and one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. ” Read part of the report.

In addition, the revitalized peace agreement did not resuscitate political stability, peace and prosperity as hoped.

“The recent peace agreement, which has only partially been implemented, has so far failed to bring about any remedy to the challenges facing the country’s children and young people.” The report reads.

“The hope and optimism that children and families in South Sudan felt at the birth of their country in 2011 have slowly turned to desperation and hopelessness,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“The childhood of many 10-year-old children in South Sudan today has been beset by violence, crises and rights abuses.” Henrietta added.

According to the latest UNICEF report, nearly 80% of the country’s population survives on humanitarian assistance.

“Some 8.3 million people in South Sudan need humanitarian support, a much higher number than the levels seen during the 2013-2018 civil war, which ranged from 6.1 million to 7.5 million people.” Part of the UNICEF report reads.

“The child mortality rate is among the highest in the world, with 1 in 10 children not expected to reach their fifth birthday.” It says.

“High levels of food insecurity are of particular concern. Some 1.4 million children are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition this year, the highest figure since 2013. More than 300,000 children – the highest number ever in the country – are expected to suffer from the worst form of malnutrition and are at risk of dying if treatment is not provided.” The report further added.

The UNICEF reports emphasize how access to education continues to dwindle with over 2.8 million children dropping out of school, the highest number of drop-outs in the world.

“Limited access to education and high drop-out rates have left 2.8 million children out of school – the highest proportion of out-of-school children in the world at more than 70 per cent of school-age children. The 14-month school closure because of the COVID pandemic had pushed an additional 2 million children out of school.” The report said.

“Despite continued insecurity, UNICEF is working with partners to increase the capacity to screen and treat children for acute malnutrition with an expected caseload of 1.4 million children in 2021. Improved access to clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene and access to basic health care are also among UNICEF’s top priorities, together with access to education.” They further said.

UNICEF continue to appeal to donors to continue donating in kinds or else life will slowly shuts its doors on many South Sudanese especially children and elderly.

“If we, as a humanitarian community, do not receive sufficient funding, the reality for children and families is that no help will be coming,” said UNICEF South Sudan Representative ai Andrea Suley.

“Humanitarian organizations are responsible for almost all service delivery in South Sudan. Without an end to the pervasive violence and insecurity threatening families and hampering humanitarian access, and without adequate funding, health and nutrition centres will be closed, wells will not be fixed and the sound of the generators keeping the vaccine fridges cool will soon fade away.” Andrea added.

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