9 July 2012

Today, a year after South Sudan became the world's youngest nation, it's still one of the toughest places on earth to be a child.

The country is tackling food and refugee crises and the threat of conflict, so children need more protection that ever.

UNICEF is calling for children's rights and well-being to made be an urgent priority. 

"The foundation of a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan can be strong only if we invest in the country's youngest citizens," said Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan.

"The measurement of progress must be in terms of concrete results for children. We need to improve children’s chances to survive beyond their fifth birthday, to have a chance to go to school and to be protected from violence and conflict."

At the moment, 70 per cent of children between 6-17 years have never set foot in a classroom, and less than 10 per cent of children finish primary education.

What's more, an estimated one in nine children die before their fifth birthday, 20 per cent are malnourished, and only 13 per cent have access to adequate sanitation.

UNICEF has been working with the country's new government to develop policy in education, water and sanitation and justice for children. For example, a growing number of children are getting access to improved drinking water, and just this year, the Sudan People's Liberation Army signed a commitment to have no children within its ranks.

 
South Sudan celebrates a year of independence on 9 July 2012, but widespread chronic food shortages and malnutrition left by a decades-long civil war are still evident. Here, a young girl receives hot milk at a feeding centre. She had to leave her home because of inter-ethnic violence.  © UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0144/Brian Sokol
South Sudan celebrates a year of independence on 9 July 2012, but widespread chronic food shortages and malnutrition left by a decades-long civil war are still evident. Here, a young girl receives hot milk at a feeding centre. She had to leave her home because of inter-ethnic violence. © UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0144/Brian Sokol

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