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Race for survival as South Sudan’s children struggle in forgotten crisis

© UNICEF/UNI185505/Rich
One-year-old Godfrey was treated for acute malnutrition in the UNICEF supported Al-Shabbah Children’s Hospital, in Juba, South Sudan.

JUBA, South Sudan, 11 March 2016 - Humanitarian funding for the world’s youngest country has collapsed, UNICEF said today, putting the lives of tens of thousands of children at risk.

Despite an urgent request by UNICEF in South Sudan for US$155 million in 2016 to support lifesaving interventions such as malnutrition treatment, health care and clean water to support the over 5 million children affected by the crisis, just $27 million – 18 per cent of the appeal - has been received to date.

The gap – some $128 million – will mean 3.3 million children will not be vaccinated against measles, 260,000 children affected by conflict will not be supported to return to school, and efforts to reunify 7,300 separated children with their families will be halted. Essential nutrition supplies will run out in August.

“This forgotten emergency is threatening the lives of tens of thousands of children,” said Jonathan Veitch, Representative, UNICEF South Sudan. “The reality is that without adequate support we will simply not be able to provide the services that are needed to prevent children dying from malnutrition, diarrhoea, malaria and vaccine-preventable diseases.”

UNICEF’s 2016 appeal includes funding for the treatment of 166,000 severely malnourished children, education for over half a million children and the release and reintegration of the 16,000 children believed to have been recruited and used by armed actors. Nearly 100 partner groups rely on funding and support from UNICEF and will be forced to scale back their services in the most vulnerable and hardest to reach communities. This includes most nutrition and child protection partners.

South Sudan’s violent crisis is now in its third year and fighting has spread to previously peaceful areas in the west of the country, including Wau and Western Equatoria, where UNICEF did not plan to have to provide a lifesaving emergency response. Meanwhile, the peak of the lean season in May will bring with it the threat of famine to over 40,000 people in central Unity State that have been heavily affected by violence.

In addition to these urgent needs, there is also alarm over the growing number of poor, urban families that are struggling to eat even one meal a day as a result of skyrocketing food prices. In the capital city Juba, child malnutrition rates are three times higher than in surrounding rural areas.

“For the first time since this crisis began, children are being threatened not by a lack of access or capacity, but by a lack of funds,” added Veitch. “Humanitarian aid is now the only thing standing between survival and total destitution for many families. Funding is needed now if the youngest members of the world’s youngest nation are to have a future.”


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UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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For more information, please contact:
Tim Irwin, UNICEF South Sudan: +211 912 162 888
Mercy Kolok, UNICEF South Sudan: +211 955 639 658
James Elder, UNICEF, Nairobi: +254 715 581 222




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