9 July, Juba: As South Sudan marks its sixth anniversary of independence, conflict is robbing the country’s youngest citizens of their health, education and security.
“Children in South Sudan are facing a double crisis. Conflict is forcing them to abandon their homes and their education. At the same time, the economic crisis and interruptions to agriculture due to the conflict are preventing them from having enough to eat,” said Perry Mansfield, World Vision’s National Director in South Sudan.
More than half the country’s population is at risk of starvation. Much of the population is dependent on humanitarian agencies to get the food they need to survive. However, violence continues to hamper efforts to reach the most vulnerable.
A million children under age 5 have been identified as malnourished and, if untreated, are at risk of death.
Since conflict escalated in 2013, two million people have been displaced internally and 1.8 million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.
More than half of the children who remain in South Sudan are not getting an education. A quarter of schools were closed last year due to the unrest.
Many refugee children flee their homeland to pursue education in other countries. In Kenya, Peter Par Kuang is a principal at a World Vision built school in Kakuma refugee camp.
“Many South Sudanese enroll in school here but they’re scarred by the past. Children arrive and they’ve lost a parent or sibling. They’ve witnessed gun fighting and other horrors. It takes a long time for them to let go of that hostility and be able to focus on their education,” says Kuang, who is also a refugee from South Sudan.
World Vision providing psycho-social support to some 52,000 children at its Child Friendly Spaces in Uganda’s refugee settlements. In South Sudan, children are receiving training work through their trauma.
“The fighting needs to end. We’re urging all to come to a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The country must start rebuilding and tackling the urgent situation its children face, so that they, and the nation, can reach their potential,” says World Vision’s Perry Mansfield.