South Sudan, Republic of

Reaching children in South Sudan

The situation of children in the world's youngest country

Students write on personal chalkboards in Ethiopia
© UNICEF/NYHQ2014-1530/Ose
Children forced to flee their homes due to conflict in South Sudan write on slates while attending class at a makeshift school in Kule camp in Ethiopia.

If more is not done, we are in danger of witnessing a repetition of the crises that emerged in Somalia and the Horn of Africa three years ago, when early warnings of extreme hunger and escalating malnutrition went largely unheeded until official famine levels were announced. South Sudan’s children cannot wait for such an announcement.

The scale of the crisis in the world’s youngest country is staggering. Since the violence erupted on 15 December 2013, almost 750,000 children have been internally displaced and more than 320,000 are living as refugees. Hundreds of thousands of children have lost months of education in school, even as schools are starting to reopen. Children are still reported as being used by armed forces and groups in the conflict. With traditional social structures damaged, children are also increasingly vulnerable to violence and to sexual abuse and exploitation. Learn more about the situation in South Sudan

Perspectives, actions and accounts of UNICEF's team and partners in the region working on the behalf of children

Bringing education to the children of Pibor, South Sudan
PIBOR, South Sudan, 25 August 2015 – A national campaign to increase school attendance and participation was launched today in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

One fifth of cholera deaths in South Sudan are children
JUBA, South Sudan/NAIROBI, Kenya, 7 July 2015
– More than 700 cholera cases have been reported in Juba and Bor so far, resulting in 32 deaths – one in five of which are children under five, UNICEF said today.

Children at risk from cholera outbreak in South Sudan
JUBA, South Sudan/NAIROBI, Kenya, 23 June 2015
– Eighteen people, including two children under 5 years of age, have died from cholera in the most recent outbreak to hit South Sudan.

Children facing unspeakable violence in South Sudan
NEW YORK, 17 June 2015
– “The violence against children in South Sudan has reached a new level of brutality. “The details of the worsening violence against children are unspeakable, but we must speak of them.

Preventing malaria in South Sudan, one net at a time
JUBA, South Sudan, 22 May 2015
– As the onset of the rainy season threatens a rise in malaria cases in South Sudan, UNICEF is helping to protect families with insecticide-treated bed nets and medication.

82 boys and 1 girl freed in final release of children from Cobra Faction in South Sudan
JUBA, South Sudan/NAIROBI, Kenya/NEW YORK, 24 April 2015 – More than 280 children (282 boys and 1 girl) have been freed in the final release of children from the Cobra Faction, an armed group in South Sudan.

“How beautiful South Sudan could be”
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN, 28 April, 2015 - Learners from the Gudele West Primary School Peace Club sing at the Peacebuilding Education and Advocacy Showcasing event in Juba. The event brought together stakeholders and religious leaders to take stock and plan the future.

Helping separated or unaccompanied children arriving at the Protection of Civilians site in Malakal
Malakal, 14 April 2015
- In just one week, 4,600 people have fled to the Protection of Civilians site in Malakal because of increased violence. UNICEF is providing tents to newly arrived families as well as screening and treating children under-5 for malnutrition.

New competition aims to find creative solutions to education challenges in conflict zones
NEW YORK/GENEVA, 31 March 2015 – UNICEF and the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR today announced the launch of a new Amplify challenge – a call for ideas and innovations that could improve the delivery and quality of education for children and adults displaced by violent conflict.

Nine year old girl soldier freed in large release of child soldiers in South Sudan
JUBA/NAIROBI/NEW YORK, 21 March, 2015 – Up to 250 child soldiers including four girls, one as young as nine, were released in South Sudan from an armed group, the Cobra Faction. The number of freed children is more than 1,300 since January 26.

Humanitarian Situation in South Sudan
Nairobi, March 15, 2015 - Hostilities in South Sudan are now into their second year. The political situation remains fragile and the humanitarian outlook is grim. Millions are food insecure, with 2.5 million severely so. Thousands of children suffer from malnutrition. Aid agencies have appealed for US$1.81 billion to respond to humanitarian needs in 2015.

Almost 2 million Syrian children are living as refugees in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and other countries. Meanwhile, the increasingly interlinked crisis gripping Iraq has forced more than 2.8 million children from their homes, and left many trapped in areas controlled by armed groups.

More children released from armed group in South Sudan
JUBA/NAIROBI/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 10 February 2015 – UNICEF and partners are overseeing the release of another 300 children from an armed group in South Sudan. This follows the release two weeks ago of 249 children aged between 11 and 17 years in the village of Gumuruk. 

The children surrendered their weapons and uniforms in a ceremony overseen by the South Sudan National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, and the Cobra Faction and supported by UNICEF. They will spend their first night in an interim care center where they will be provided with food, water and clothing. They will also have access to health and psychosocial services.

Good news in the ongoing demobilization of children in Pibor, South Sudan - 95 more children have been released with UNICEF's support.

Despite the huge challenges these boys face adapting to civilian life, there are positive signs so far with the majority attending UNICEF's care centre every day for meals, recreational activities and psychosocial support. 

UNICEF condemns new child abductions by armed group in South Sudan
JUBA/NAIROBI/NEW YORK, 21 February, 2015 – UNICEF condemns in the strongest terms the abduction of scores of boys, some as young 13, by an armed group near Malakal in the north of South Sudan. A UNICEF education team reported that 89 children were abducted while doing their exams. The actual number could be much higher. The incident occurred in the community of Wau Shilluk in Upper Nile State where thousands of people have been internally displaced by the ongoing conflict. According to witnesses, armed soldiers surrounded the community and searched house by house. Boys older than 12 years of age were taken away by force.

In South Sudan, a school reopens, but risks remain
BENTIU, South Sudan, 20 February 2105 – Returning to the classroom is a welcome occasion for students and teachers alike in one town in South Sudan, but continued conflict and displacement mean that their safety remains fragile. William, a teacher in Bentiu, in South Sudan’s Unity State, cannot stop smiling. He has waited for this day a long time. The school where he taught until one year ago is reopening, and he is back in his old classroom, ready for the students. When fighting erupted in Bentiu almost a year ago, thousands of people fled to the nearby United Nations base, where a camp was set up to protect civilians escaping the violence. The town remains eerily quiet, despite pockets of activity around the market. Continued insecurity has prevented many families from returning, but there are still vulnerable children left behind – including some who have been recruited by armed groups.

In South Sudan, a long way back to freedom
BENTIU, South Sudan, 27 January 2015 – “The bullets were heavy. It was impossible to run. It was hard to use a gun…”

The day that changed David’s life started as any other. He said goodbye to his parents and left his home in Unity State to go to school – never knowing he would not return that evening. At school, armed men came and took him away, along with more than 100 of his classmates. When the terrified boys asked why they had been taken, their captors told them that it was their duty to fight and defend their tribe.

Amid conflict in South Sudan, 400,000 children will go back to school
JUBA/NAIROBI/NEW YORK, 19 February 2015 – Approximately 400,000 children whose schooling has been interrupted by the conflict in South Sudan will have the chance to return to their studies over the next 12 months. The ‘Back to Learning’ campaign, which was launched in Juba today by UNICEF and the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit, will reach out-of-school children in all 10 states, including areas currently engulfed in conflict.

For those sheltering in camps for internally displaced people or in host communities devastated by the war, where no education services are available, UNICEF and partners will provide a comprehensive package of education support for children aged 3 to 18 years of age. This will include pre-school and basic education, catch-up programmes for adolescents and psychosocial support in the classrooms.

Children giving up their guns to go to school
The release of an estimated 2000-3000 children from an armed faction in South Sudan began today in Greater Pibor, in the eastern part of the country. Saudamini Siegrist, Senior Adviser for Child Protection in Emergencies at UNICEF, recently travelled to the country to assist with the preparations for the release. She sat down with UNICEF Connect to share some of her experiences.

More brutal and intense conflicts leave children increasingly at risk of recruitment 
NEW YORK, 12 February 2015 – Children are increasingly vulnerable to recruitment and use by armed groups as conflicts around the world become more brutal, intense and widespread, UNICEF and the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict said today to mark the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers.

UNICEF and the Office of the Special Representative call for urgent action to end grave violations against children including their recruitment and use by armed groups. Parties to conflicts must meet their obligations under International Law.

South Sudan on the edge of nutrition catastrophe if hostilities don’t end now
JUBA, South Sudan, 4 February 2015 – UNICEF urged warring groups in South Sudan to follow up fast on the ceasefire deal reached Monday or face potentially catastrophic food shortages: the ongoing conflict is sharply reducing food supplies and slowing humanitarian access to those who most need assistance.

Thousands of children to be gradually released from armed group in South Sudan 
JUBA/NAIROBI/GENEVA/ NEW YORK, 27 January, 2015 – UNICEF and partners have secured the release of approximately 3,000 children from an armed group in South Sudan - one of the largest ever demobilizations of children. The first group of 280 children were released today, at the village of Gumuruk in Jonglei State, eastern South Sudan. Further phased releases of more children will occur over the coming month.

Long way back to freedom: Child soldiers in South Sudan
BENTIU, South Sudan, 27 January 2015 – “The bullets were heavy. It was impossible to run. It was hard to use a gun…”
The day that changed David’s life started as any other. He said goodbye to his parents and left his home in Unity State to go to school – never knowing he would not return that evening. At school, armed men came and took him away, along with more than 100 of his classmates. When the terrified boys asked why they had been taken, their captors told them that it was their duty to fight and defend their tribe.

A mother’s nightmare in South Sudan
Bor, Jonglei State, South Sudan, 18 December 2014 - It was a cold and dark April evening in the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in B, when Alice*, a 25-year old mother of three, displaced by the conflict that broke out in South Sudan last December, began to worry – again.

Breaking down barriers to girls' education 
KAPOETA SOUTH COUNTRY, South Sudan, 15 December 2014 - Natabo Gabriel is at the Kapoeta Youth Vocational Training Centre, in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria State. Natabo and her classmates are graduating today from the training centre. Natabo, at only 13 years of age, and without any formal education, is accomplishing what many girls from her community may never achieve.

Photo of the week: On year of conflict in South Sudan
15 December 2014 marks one year since the eruption of violence in South Sudan that has left nearly 750,000 children internally displaced and forced more than 320,000 to seek refuge abroad.

Resilience and Hope – The Children of South Sudan
15 December 2014 - One year since fighting broke out in South Sudan, UNICEF looks back at the some of the inspiring and resilient children involved in the Learning for Peace programme

The video game idea that caused a walkout at a gaming convention
11 December 2014 - In an effort to raise awareness of the situation of children in South Sudan, UNICEF embarked on an unusual kind of awareness-raising campaign. Raising awareness is just one step toward helping the children of South Sudan, who are living every day in a life-or-death situation, and it is not a game. 

One year after conflict, children still under daily threat in South Sudan 
JUBA/GENEVA, 12 December 2014 – The future for a generation of children in South Sudan is being stolen by the year-long conflict in the country, which has driven hundreds of thousands of children from their homes, schools and communities; subjecting them to violence, malnutrition and disease.

Planting the seeds of peace
JUBA, South Sudan, 12 December - When the conflict broke out on 15 December last year in South Sudan, tens of thousands of people fled to the ‘Protection of Civilian’ (POC) site at ‘UN HOUSE’ in Juba. Most were from the Nuer tribe. Overnight, the Nuer people became displaced in their own country, desperate for security. In chaotic and violent scenes, children were killed, and many separated from loved ones.

A taste of hope in South Sudan
NHIALDIU, South Sudan, 12 November 2014 – In one hand, Nyakuoy cradles her 12-month-old baby boy, Nyepuote, close to her body, and in the other she holds a sachet of ready-to-use therapeutic food. Despite a hesitant start, her son is slowly getting used to the peanut-based paste that could save his life.

In South Sudan, a single mother’s fight to survive
PATHAI, South Sudan, 10 October 2014 – The remoteness of Cuaca’s new home makes it a hard place to raise her three children. There are no roads, markets, hospitals or schools. Two of the four wells in the village are broken, while the population that depends on this water has doubled. Forced to flee violence and struggling to feed her three children, a woman in South Sudan is one of thousands to get help from a UNICEF/WFP Rapid Response Mission – and one of millions still trying desperately to survive.

Photo essay: Reaching remote areas
UNICEF, with the World Food Programme and other partners, led a rapid response mission to provide the town of Kiech Kon with critical support. Conflict, displacement and food insecurity are threatening children across South Sudan. By early September, rapid response missions to 23 remote locations had reached almost half a million people, including over 95,000 children under age 5. 

Child malnutrition emergency in South Sudan
JUBA, South Sudan, 23 September 2014 – Tens of thousands of children under the age of five remain at risk of malnutrition-related death in South Sudan, despite temporary improvements in the food security situation that were released today by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) group of experts.

In South Sudan, flooding compounds nightmare
“I’ve been standing holding my baby all night”, she told me, "I had nowhere to put my baby down due the height of the flood waters.”

A desperate struggle against starvation in South Sudan
As a food crisis threatens millions in conflict-stricken South Sudan, families are eating whatever they can to survive. Without more urgent international help, many will likely die of starvation.

Voices from the field: South Sudan – portrait of a humanitarian hero
“I believe that being a United Nations employee is about humanitarian actions,” Dr. Thomas Lyimo says. “It’s not only about sitting on the policy table doing advocacy, supporting the government or other partners to come up with evidence to improve policies, strategies, plans, guidelines, things like that.

Video: Children in danger as famine looms in South Sudan
Malakal, South Sudan, 28 July, 2014 - Famine looms in South Sudan, where resurgent conflict has raised pre-existent emergency levels of undernutrition among children to grave heights. 

Video: Far from home: Giving birth in a displacement camp
Before the conflict, pregnant women in South Sudan already faced one of the world's highest rates of maternal mortality, but the violence and its resulting displacement, as well as heavy rains and floods, are heightening the risks these women and their newborns endure.

Video: The lifeblood of survival in South Sudan    
South Sudan is the latest large-scale conflict to disrupt the lives of millions of innocent children.

Video and interview: Layers of loss: An interview with photojournalist Kate Holt on South Sudan
Advocating for human rights and illuminating their abuses has taken Zimbabwe-born photojournalist Kate Holt around the globe. On assignment for UNICEF, she returned to South Sudan, a country that has figured extensively into her work.

Photos: Children are dying now
Conflict has raised levels of undernutrition among children to grave heights in South Sudan, and famine now looms. Nearly 50,000 children under the age of 5 will die from severe malnutrition over the course of this year, if we don't act now.

Photo of the week: Threatened at every turn 
The dual threats of conflict and displacement are creating and compounding additional risks to children’s well-being. Violence has, for example, disrupted cycles of agricultural production and sales – which are not only avenues of food production and procurement, but also critical sources of livelihoods.



In South Sudan, 1.1 million people have been displaced (440,000 people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries) since resurgent conflict erupted in mid-December 2013. An estimated 588,222 of the displaced are children.

Nyapith Roaw, 14: “[B]ecause there is no school due to the war, many young girls face early marriage,” she says. “Their families are poor because of the crisis, and they are unable to resist the offer of a dowry. It means that women are not able to complete their promise. Instead, they are walking far everyday just to find water or to buy sorghum in the market. This is not the future that my friends and I want.” Nyapith is from Kiech Kon – where UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and partners have deployed a rapid response team to assist displaced people in remote conflict areas.

Nyagach Ngot, 15: "Life here in Kiech Kon is hard, especially now because of the war,” she says. “We can't move around anywhere. The main thing that would make things better for us young women, really, would be to have a phone network so at least we could communicate with other people outside here. I have relatives and friends in Ethiopia, in Sudan, in Kenya. I have not spoken to them in so long. I say they are in those countries, but really, I don't know because it's been so long since I last talked to them." 

Nyibol Chok, 13:  “I want to be a doctor and work in the hospital to help people,” she says. “There is a great need for doctors in South Sudan. Here in Kiech Kon, there used to be a doctor, for example, but now, because of the war, he has no supplies and no equipment, and he cannot really help anymore." Nyibol is also from Kiech Kon in Upper Nile State.

Can you see me? Read Nyaluak's story

Press releases and statements issued by UNICEF

From the Washington PostTo South Sudan’s woes, add famine — 50,000 kids at risk of death 
According to UNICEF and the World Food Program, close to a third of South Sudan’s population faces “acute” or “emergency” levels of hunger and malnutrition. Thousands of children remain stranded in remote parts of the country, where they are at risk of starvation.

Children in South Sudan cannot wait for famine before world acts
JUBA, South Sudan, 25 July 2014 - The Executive Directors of UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) today warned that children in South Sudan cannot wait any longer before the world takes action, as they met severely malnourished children and their mothers affected by the conflict in the world's newest country.

UNICEF and WFP stepping up assistance to desperate people in remote areas of South Sudan
JUBA, South Sudan, 8 July 2014 – UNICEF and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are stepping up joint missions to reach desperate people in remote areas of South Sudan where the number of children at risk of death from malnutrition-related causes has increased dramatically and a hunger catastrophe is looming.

Fresh attacks in South Sudan squeeze humanitarian efforts
JUBA, South Sudan, 3 March 2014 – With fresh outbreaks of fighting in South Sudan likely to displace tens of thousands of additional people, UNICEF said today the emergency in the world’s newest nation risks becoming overwhelming. Nearly 900,000 people – half of them children – have already been forced from their homes in South Sudan.

Dire humanitarian crisis emerging in South Sudan, says UNICEF
BOR, South Sudan, 26 January 2014 – In the wake of the ceasefire signed late last week, UNICEF is warning of a humanitarian crisis unfolding outside Bor town in Jonglei state and other towns in South Sudan.

For further statements, visit the press centre.
For photo resources, visit here.


South Sudan: Nutrition crisis ahead
Nearly one million children under age 5 in South Sudan will require treatment for acute malnutrition in 2014, and without immediate intervention, it is estimated that 50,000 children could die from malnutrition by the end of the year.

South Sudan: A country falling into famine
The severely malnourished children of South Sudan cannot wait any longer before the world takes action. “It’s as bad as anything I’ve ever seen,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on a recent visit to a camp in Malakal.

South Sudan: Ensuring safe pregnancy and birth for internally displaced mothers
South Sudan had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, even before the eruption of the current conflict and displacement of so many people. A Health Link maternal and primary care clinic has been established at Mingkaman to give mother and baby a fighting chance.

In South Sudan, educating children in crisis
“In addition to the obvious need for continuing children’s education, education in emergencies actually saves lives by supporting children and adolescents with essential messages about how to maintain health in the crowded temporary shelters where they live,” says UNICEF Representative in South Sudan Jonathan Veitch.

With conflict raging in South Sudan, recruitment of children into armed groups is on the rise
This story of a former child member of armed groups highlights the immediate dangers as well as the long-term consequences for children who are forced to fight in conflicts not of their making

Press releases (Communiqués de presse)

Face à la famine, les enfants du Soudan du Sud ne peuvent attendre plus longtemps avant que le reste du monde agisse
JUBA, Soudan du Sud, 25 juillet 2014 - Les directeurs généraux de l’UNICEF et du Programme alimentaire mondial (PAM) ont aujourd’hui lancé une mise en garde en affirmant que que les enfants du Soudan du Sud ne pouvaient attendre plus longtemps avant que le reste du monde agisse, cela après avoir rencontré des enfants et leurs mères gravement sous-alimentés et touchés par le conflit qui se déroule dans le pays le plus jeune du monde.

L'UNICEF et le PAM intensifient leurs opérations dans les zones reculées du Soudan du Sud
Juba, Soudan du Sud, 8 juillet 2014 - L'UNICEF et le Programme alimentaire mondial des Nations Unies (PAM) intensifient conjointement leurs opérations d’assistance aux personnes démunies vivant dans les zones reculées du Soudan du Sud. Le nombre d'enfants qui risquent de mourir de causes liées à la malnutrition a augmenté de façon spectaculaire, laissant présager une catastrophe imminente.

Des fournitures d’urgence arrivent dans les zones isolées du Soudan du Sud, grâce à une opération conjointe
JUBA, Soudan du Sud, 28 mars 2014 - Une opération d'urgence pour fournir de la nourriture, des vaccins, des suppléments nutritionnels et autres services humanitaires essentiels à l'une des régions les plus isolées du Soudan du Sud a commencé aujourd'hui, dans le cadre d'une intervention conjointe du Fonds des Nations Unies pour l’enfance (UNICEF) et du Programme alimentaire mondial des Nations Unies (PAM).

Seule et perdue : le cauchemar d’une fillette prise dans les combats au Soudan du Sud
PAGAK, Soudan du Sud, le 2 mai 2014 - Nyagonar* se souvient encore de la dernière fois où elle a vu sa mère. C’était à Malakal, l’une des nombreuses bourgades du Soudan du Sud où les combats et l’insécurité sont devenus des menaces permanentes.

Dans le chaos du conflit au Soudan du Sud, faire en sorte que les enfants séparés de leur famille la retrouvent
JUBA, Soudan du Sud, le 24 mars 2014 – Beaucoup de questions ont traversé l’esprit de Joséphine* lorsqu’elle a entendu les coups de feu, en décembre. « Est-ce que la guerre reprend dans le pays ? Mes enfants vont-ils vivre la même vie que moi ? Qu’en est-il de la sécurité de mes enfants?

South Sudan information in Spanish

Los niños y las niñas en Sudán del Sur no pueden esperar a que se declare una hambruna antes de que el mundo actúe
JUBA, Sudán del Sur, 25 de julio de 2014 - Los Directores Ejecutivos de UNICEF y el Programa Mundial de Alimentos (PMA) advirtieron hoy que los niños y las niñas en Sudán del Sur no pueden esperar más tiempo antes de que el mundo tome medidas, pues conocieron personalmente a niños con malnutrición grave y a sus madres, todos ellos afectados por el conflicto que golpea al país más joven del mundo.

Sudán: Los niños son los más afectados por el desplazamiento de la población
GINEBRA / JARTUM, 27 de junio 2014 - La actual crisis de desplazados internos y de refugiados en Sudán se manifiesta claramente como una crisis que sufren los niños: el 70% de las personas en movimiento son niños. El conflicto está activo en 9 de los 18 estados del país y en más de un centenar de lugares hay personas que necesitan asistencia humanitaria. Desde el comienzo del año, solo la región de Darfur ha visto 267.600 nuevos desplazados internos.

Hay niños que están siendo asesinados en el brutal conflicto de Sudán del Sur
Juba, Sudán del Sur, 18 de abril 2014 - Varios niños han sido asesinados durante los enfrentamientos que se están produciendo esta semana en Sudán del Sur, algunos como consecuencia de un ataque contra la población desplazada y otros por haber quedado atrapados en el fuego cruzado o por haber sido reclutados por fuerzas y grupos armados, según UNICEF. 

South Sudan information in Arabic

For more about UNICEF's work, choose any of the following:
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