Fighting between rival forces is Juba, South Sudan has left children at further risk of abuse and exploitation. Close to 300 people died in the violence, including civilians and UN Peacekeepers. A ceasefire achieved between warring factions in the last few days appears to be holding, however overall uncertainty remains.
Conflict increases risks for children
“This turn of events places already vulnerable children at further risk of abuse and exploitation," says Plan International South Sudan Country Director Daniel Muchena. "In situations of conflict, there is gross violation of children’s rights – especially their rights to education, health care and protection as well as participation in issues that affect their lives. The renewed fighting is very worrisome as the situation for children is likely to worsen, making a difficult situation that much worse.”
We are joining calls for lasting solutions to safeguard the lives of innocent children caught up in the fighting.
70% of the current South Sudanese refugees are under 18
In addition, we are currently assessing the situation with a view to ensuring a timely and secure restart to our existing lifesaving and emergency work, following a temporary suspension of operations.
The South Sudan crisis has been termed a children’s crisis, with official reports indicating approximately 70% of the current South Sudanese refugees to be under 18.
According to the UN Refugee Agency’s Revised South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan* which was relaunched on 15 July 2016, children and youth are among the most affected, and the current response is severely underfunded at only 19% funding against a budget of US$701 million.
Already, the country has experienced displacement, abuse and exploitation of children and the recent events are likely to aggravate an already difficult environment. Marginal gains made to provide education services to children since 2011 are at risk of being halted.
Children's education harmed
Poverty underpins many of the humanitarian challenges facing the people of South Sudan, particularly children. According to UNICEF, since the conflict broke out in 2013, an estimated 400,000 children have dropped out of school with 9,000-15,000 children reported to be serving as child soldiers. Less than 50% of children are reported to be in school.
Current UN estimates are that 2 out of every 3 people in South Sudan are food insecure, with the ongoing drought placing children at risk of severe acute malnutrition. In addition, as a result of this recent crisis, there are major concerns around a surge in water-borne diseases, including cholera. There were already some cases of cholera before the crisis. With limited fresh water supplies the situation may worsen.
Before this flare up, South Sudan was already recognised as one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world in terms of duration and scale of impact. Recent events are likely to exacerbate the situation.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011 as the outcome of a 2005 peace deal that ended Africa's longest-running civil war.
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