UN: ONE MILLION CHILDREN FLEES SOUTH SUDAN AS PEACEKEEPERS DEPLOYED TO ASSIST IN AID DELIVERY

JUBA, May 9 (NNN-UNNS) — The escalating conflict in South Sudan had driven more than one million children out of the country, the United Nations said, warning that the future of a generation is ‘on the brink.’

The horrifying fact that nearly one in five children in South Sudan has been forced to flee their home illustrates how devastating this conflict has been for the country’s most vulnerable, said Leila Pakkala, the Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in a press release issued jointly with the UN refugee agency.

Add this to the more than one million children who are also displaced within South Sudan, and the future of a generation is truly on the brink, she warned.

Children make 62 per cent of more than 1.8 million refugees from South Sudan, according to the latest UN figures. More than 75,000 refugee children in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have crossed South Sudan’s borders either unaccompanied or separated from their families.

No refugee crisis today worries me more than South Sudan, said Valentin Tapsoba, the Africa Bureau Director of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

That refugee children are becoming the defining face of this emergency is incredibly troubling, he added.

South Sudan has the highest proportion of out-of-school children in the world at about 75 per cent.

The trauma, physical upheaval, fear and stress experienced by so many children account for just part of toll the crisis is exacting. Children remain at risk of recruitment by armed forces and groups and, with traditional social structures damaged, they are also increasingly vulnerable to violence, sexual abuse and exploitation.

UNICEF’s appeal of $181 million for South Sudan and South Sudanese refugees in the region for the rest of the year is currently only 52 per cent funded while UNHCR’s funding appeal of $ 781.8 million for the country is only 11 per cent funded.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has urgently deployed peacekeeping troops to Aburoc in the Upper Nile region to help enable the delivery of much needed humanitarian assistance to the 50,000 people displaced from home, the Mission said.

The aim is to provide humanitarian groups with the confidence they need to resume the provision of urgent assistance to tens of thousands of people in Aburoc who are fleeing the ongoing violence, said the Head of UNMISS, David Shearer, in a press release.

Currently up to 50,000 people are sheltering in and around the town of Aburoc on the west bank of the River Nile after a series of clashes between Government and opposition forces. The most urgent need is drinking water as there is a risk of an outbreak of diarrhoea or even cholera which has the potential to kill thousands of vulnerable people, he said.

Shearer said the deployment is short-term and the peacekeepers’ immediate task is to secure the base from where humanitarians are providing water and other assistance. The road between Kodok and Aburoc will be checked for old landmines by the UN Mine Action Service and cleared as necessary. Protection may also be provided for water trucks using the road if that is required to enable people to move freely.

Despite the August 2015 peace agreement, South Sudan slipped back into conflict due to renewed clashes between rival forces � the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and the SPLA in Opposition backing former First Vice-President Riek Machar.

I also note that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has acknowledged UNMISS’ intention to help facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of the Upper Nile, Shearer said. — NNN-UNNS

Source: NAM News Network