New report sounds alarm for desperate children caught in conflict

Urgent measures are needed to reverse a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation and save the children of South Sudan from a desperate plight, a new report by World Vision warns.

According to the report, Sounding the Alarm: The desperate plight of children in South Sudanalmost 5 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and more than 1.3 million that have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the violence, half are children.

World Vision South Sudan’s Program Director Perry Mansfield said that almost four million people are in urgent need of emergency food aid and the conflict has been the main driver compromising the country’s supply. “South Sudan is in the grip of a severe food crisis and the conflict is having a devastating impact on children,” Mr Mansfield said.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the severe lack of food with a quarter of a million children likely to be severely malnourished and up to 50,000 at risk of dying by the end of the year without rapid intervention.

Almost 500,000 children have fled their homes to live in makeshift camps or overcrowded Protection of Civilian bases established by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

According to the United Nations, all parties to the conflict have committed brutal acts of violence against civilians, including young children. “Children are especially susceptible to recruitment into armed forces in the conflict and physical and sexual abuse.”

It is reported that severe forms of abuse have included rape at gun point, sexual slavery, forced abortion and recruitment into armed forces. The report warns that abuse of children is only likely to worsen as frustrations rise in overcrowded camps.

“Displaced children have told us of the daily strain of constantly being on the move to escape fighting while trying to find enough food and water to survive,” Mr Mansfield said. “The international community must do more to bring an end to the conflict and a peaceful solution so that children can live free from fear of attack, abuse or lack of food.”

The report, launched ahead of the Humanitarian Pledging Conference for South Sudan in Oslo tomorrow, calls the international community to push for an end to the violence, safe passage for humanitarian organisations to assist affected families and donors to commit much needed funds to the South Sudan emergency response.

World Vision was one of the first humanitarian organisations to respond to needs in affected areas of South Sudan after hostilities erupted in December. The organisation is working to provide food, clean water, shelter, toilets, hygiene kits and nutrition supplements for children. World Vision is also working on family tracing, reuniting separated children and running child-friendly spaces – safe havens for children where they can play, learn and recover from emotional scars.

To donate to World Vision Australia’s South Sudan Appeal call 13 32 40 or visit www.worldvision.com.au/SouthSudan

Perry Mansfield, World Vision South Sudan Program Director and Majella Hurney, author of the report are available for interview.

Media contact: Gabrielle Brophy, 0407 575 112 orgabrielle.brophy@worldvision.com.au


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