Children in grave danger amid increasing violence in South Sudan
Humanitarian assistance reaching the displaced in Juba, but difficulties reaching those in Jonglei State
JUBA, 24 December 2013 – As the violence in South Sudan escalates and tens of thousands of civilians take refuge in UN compounds around the country, children are in grave danger, says UNICEF.
“An estimated 81,000 civilians have fled their homes, the majority of them women and children, but we believe that with the situation changing so rapidly the actual numbers are likely to be higher,” UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan, Iyorlumun Uhaa, said today.
“We are especially worried about those in and around Bor, in Jonglei State, where the fighting has recently been heaviest. There are desperate shortages of food and clean water at the UN compound there and the lack of sanitation facilities poses a high risk of disease. Children, always among the most vulnerable in conflict, are spending their days without shelter in the intense heat and sun, and sleeping in the open during the cold nights,” he added.
Although the intense fighting is making it difficult to reach civilians sheltering in the UN compound in Bor with humanitarian assistance, aid is being delivered to the two UN compounds in Juba, where an estimated 20,000 people have taken refuge.
UNICEF and its partners are constructing latrines, with some 400 due to be completed in coming days, and have organized and equipped teams of volunteers to clean large areas where people have had no choice but to defecate in the open for days.
Increased supplies of water are getting to the camps and UNICEF, along with other UN agencies and other aid organizations are setting up tents for shelter, distribution of supplies and registration of displaced families, which is especially important in reuniting children who have become separated from their parents.
Increased emergency health care is available at the compounds, and UNICEF has delivered high energy biscuits to provide much-needed nutrients for children aged six months to five years old.
“UNICEF and the United Nations are committed to protecting civilians in South Sudan, regardless of their ethnic group, but it is really the leaders of this, the world’s youngest nation, who have the responsibility to protect their citizens and particularly their children,” added Uhaa, “We urge all of the country’s leaders to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict and avoid further escalation.”
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