Jany Kuong, 20, holds her baby girl Nyakuiy Kay.

In South Sudan, “childhood under attack” as country enters fifth year of fighting

Home > Media Contacts and Press Releases > In South Sudan, “childhood under attack” as country enters fifth year of fighting

15 December 2017 – South Sudan is in the throes of a tragedy for children that affects more than half the child population – victims of malnutrition, disease, forced recruitment, violence and the loss of schooling – UNICEF said in a report released today.

Years of insecurity and upheaval have had a “staggering impact on children”, threatening an entire generation, the report, Childhood under Attack, says.

The numbers tell a grim story:

• Almost three million children are severely food insecure;
• more than one million are acutely malnourished;
• 2.4 million have been forced from their homes;
• two million children out of school, and if the current situation persists, only one in 13 children are likely to finish primary school;
• an estimated 900,000 children suffer from psychological distress;
• more than 19,000 children have been recruited in the ranks of armed forces and armed groups;
• and more than 2,300 children have been killed or injured since the conflict first erupted in December 2013, with hundreds of incidents of rape and sexual assault against children having been reported.

“No child should ever experience such horrors and deprivations,” said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF’s Regional Director in Eastern and Southern Africa, “and yet children in South Sudan are facing them on a daily basis. The children of South Sudan urgently require a peaceful and protective environment. Anything less places children and women at even greater risk of grave violations and abuse.”

Getting assistance to those most in need continues to be a challenge in many insecure areas of the country. Humanitarian organisations in South Sudan are looking for the full implementation of a recent Presidential order calling for unrestricted access to those in urgent need of aid.

UNICEF has been delivering lifesaving assistance to children across the country since the crisis started in December 2013, including: treatment of more than 600,000 for severe acute malnutrition, vaccination against measles for more than 3.3 million children, the provision of primary health care services to more than 3.6 million children, and supporting the access to safe water supply for 1.8 million people. This has been done despite the huge challenges faced in a country that ranks among the world’s most dangerous for aid workers. Since the conflict started in 2013, 95 aid workers have been killed, including 25 killed so far this year.

In releasing Childhood under Attack, UNICEF warned that new funding is essential in order to provide critical assistance to children and women. In 2018 UNICEF requires $183 million, and currently has a funding gap of 77 per cent (or $141 million).

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For more information please contact:

Unicef UK Media Team, 0207 375 6030, media@unicef.org.uk

About Unicef

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children. As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit unicef.org.uk