Two out of three South Sudanese children are still in desperate need of humanitarian support a decade after the country gained independence.
This is according to the UN Children’s Agency, UNICEF.
This is equivalent to a record 4.5 million children whose last 10 years have been characterized by violence, man-made and natural crises, and rights abuses.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, UNICEF said the aspirations of a new dawn that independence would bring have since faded, and slowly turned to desperation and hopelessness.
“The hope and optimism that children and families in South Sudan felt at the birth of their country in 2011 have slowly turned to desperation and hopelessness,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
“The childhood of many 10-year-old children in South Sudan today has been beset by violence, crises and rights abuses.”
The report states that the revitalized peace agreement has so far failed to bring about any remedy to the challenges facing the country’s children and young people.
This is because, it said, more than 300,000 children – the highest number ever in the country – are expected to suffer from the worst form of malnutrition and are at risk of dying if no treatment is provided.
UNICEF disclosed that high levels of food insecurity have also left some 1.4 million children vulnerable to acute malnutrition this year, the highest figure since 2013.
The agency affirmed that the child mortality rate in South Sudan is still among the highest in the world, with 1 in 10 children not expected to reach their fifth birthday.
UNICEF Executive Director warned that without an end to the pervasive violence and insecurity threatening families and hampering humanitarian access, and without adequate funding, existing health and nutrition centers will be closed.
Henrietta Fore disclosed that UNICEF needs $180 million to assist the most vulnerable children this year.
Aid agencies say, 10 years after independence, some 8.3 million people in South Sudan still need humanitarian support.
This number is a much higher number than the levels seen during the 2013-2018 civil war, which ranged from 6.1 million to 7.5 million people.