“We are going through the worst humanitarian crisis since independence”, says UNICEF ahead of South Sudan’s 10 years anniversary
A record 4,5 million children – two out of three – are in desperate need of humanitarian support, UNICEF warned today, ahead of the 10th anniversary of the country’s independence on July 9.
“We are actually going through the worst humanitarian crisis since independence 10 years ago”, said Mads Oyen, UNICEF’s Chief field operations in South Sudan, speaking today at a news briefing at the United Nations in Geneva.
With a child mortality rate being among one of the highest in the world with 1 in 10 children not expected to reach their fifth birthday, the Child Rights Agency is strongly appealing to donors to not reduce their contributions for UNICEF in South Sudan.
High levels of food insecurity are of particular concern. Some 1.4 million children are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition this year, the highest figure since 2013. 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 treatment is not provided.
“There is nothing between humanitarian assistance and no assistance, and that is why we are appealing to donors to really put South Sudan in a separate category where we don’t cut, because any cuts again will result in immediate impact, because it is not a question of a weak government safety net, there is no safety net”, stated Mads Oyen.
According to UNICEF, there is no safety net on nutrition, on health, on water and sanitation and neither on child protection.
“Triggering factors include the continued violence and insecurity - both political violence and armed conflict - as well as inter-communal violence with breakdowns of law and order at local levels, with cycles of revenge killing, rapes and so on, as well as the impact of climate change and flooding”, said UNICEF’s Chief of field operations in South Sudan. The changing weather patterns are extremely disruptive in most difficult areas.
At the moment there are “8,3 million people need humanitarian assistance and 4,5 million of those are children. Those numbers have never been higher”.
Out of the USD 180 million funding appeal to assist the most vulnerable children this year, UNICEF has received so far only one third of it.
“South Sudan is really one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world and one of the most forgotten and we have the highest percentage of children in need in the world as part of the total population”.
The country has currently 3,2 million refugees outside and 1,6 million internally displaced people (IDP). South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011, after two civil wars. Only two years after independence, the country fell into another civil war, which is estimated to have killed almost 400,000 people. Today South Sudan ranks 187th out of 189 on the Human Development Index, and 179 out of 180 on another leading index that measures public sector corruption.