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South Sudan, Republic of

Reaching children in South Sudan

The situation of children in the world's youngest country

UNICEF Image: Children lie on the floor, covering themselves with sheets
© UNICEF/UN049181/Gonzalez Farran
Ten displaced children, who fled their village in Bawma due to armed conflict, lay down in a house owned by a relative who is hosting them and 10 other people in Yambio, Western Equatoria, South Sudan.


The scale of the crisis in the world’s youngest country is staggering.

Renewed conflict since July 2016 has deepened a humanitarian crisis that, since the violence erupted in December 2013, has displaced over 3 million people, including 1.4 million who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Almost 70% of the refugees are children.

Meanwhile, a deteriorating economic situation, with skyrocketing inflation, has triggered a food security crisis. Close to 40% of the population struggles to get enough to eat, and children are among the most vulnerable. Over 360,000 children under five are estimated to be suffering from severe acute malnutrition, and the situation is expected to worsen in 2017.

Over half the country's children are out of school -- the highest proportion of out-of-school children in the world. 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.

Learn more about the situation in South Sudan.

Read more about South Sudan’s humanitarian needs and UNICEF's work.

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

“I can’t skip because my foot still hurts from the bullet wound”
JUBA, South Sudan, 8 February 2017 – Maria was shot in the foot while running for her life when fighting, which killed her siblings and mother, broke out in her village. Her father's whereabouts are unknown, so she now lives with a foster family in Yambio.


“I gave birth to him in the forest while running from the violence and insecurity”
YAMBIO, South Sudan, 31 January 2017 – Nazente and her one-month old son Charles are some of over 4,000 internally displaced people in Yambio. She fled with her husband and four children but was forced to leave behind her mother-in-law who was too old to run.


A beautiful smile
YAMBIO, South Sudan, 30 January 2017 – Three-month-old Emmanuel lives with his mother and aunt (pictured with him) in Nabima Primary School in Yambio. His family was displaced when fighting broke out in his village Bazumburu.


Nyajime has recovered from severe acute malnutrition
South Sudan, 18 January 2017 – She’s fully recovered and going to school. See her story in pictures.


Providing clean and safe water to families displaced in Yambio
YAMBIO, South Sudan, 16 January 2017 – With partners, UNICEF is providing clean and safe water to families displaced by conflict.


People taking shelter in Yambio
YAMBIO, South Sudan, 13 January 2017 – Around 4,000 people have taken shelter after fleeing their villages due to insecurity.


Putting supplies in place for the rainy season
South Sudan, 11 January 2016 – At UNICEF’s Juba warehouse, we are loading 27 trucks with health, nutrition and sanitation supplies bound Wau, Bentiu and Aweil.


Displaced in Yambio
YAMBIO, South Sudan, 9 January 2016 – Thousands of people have taken shelter in the grounds of primary school in Yambio after having fled insecurity in their villages. Humanitarian agencies, including UNICEF, are providing health and nutrition assistance as well as basic supplies such as mosquito nets, buckets and soap.


Treating children for malnutrition
BAHR EL GHAZAL, South Sudan, 4 January 2017 – UNICEF South Sudan and partners have treated 56,130 children for severe malnutrition in Northern Bahr el Ghazal since they stepped up their response in September to address growing food insecurity in the region.


Displaced children in South Sudan speak out
South Sudan, 23 December 2016 – The conflict that broke out in 2013 continues to devastate lives of children in South Sudan. UNICEF and partners are responding to the needs of women and children across the country.


South Sudan’s malnutrition crisis
AWEIL, South Sudan, 14 December 2016 – In the world’s youngest country, more than 360,000 children are estimated to be severely malnourished.


Ethical reporting workshop
TORIT, South Sudan, 12 December 2016 – With support from UNICEF, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is conducting a three-day workshop on ethical reporting on children and conflict-sensitive reporting for journalists.


Screening children for malnutrition
YEI, South Sudan, 6 December 2016 – Together with our implementing partner ACROSS, UNICEF has screened more than 5,000 children in Yei for malnutrition. Those found to be severely malnourished are already receiving treatment at the Yei Civil Hospital.


UNICEF Ambassador Tom Hiddleston returns to South Sudan as the brutal conflict enters its fourth year
JUBA/LONDON, 30 November 2016 – UNICEF Ambassador Tom Hiddleston travelled to South Sudan last week to see how the brutal civil war continues to destroy the lives of vast numbers of children across the country.


“Domestic violence is a problem”
South Sudan, 29 November 2016 – A women-friendly space helps a survivor of domestic violence, who says that talking to other women helps her feel less alone.


“Women should all be given the chance to go to school and be educated”
South Sudan, 28 November 2016 – This is the only way for them to defend themselves, and for the country to see a better future, says one woman interviewed as part of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.


Dignity kits for girls
NORTHERN BAHR EL GHAZAL, South Sudan, 25 November 2016 – UNICEF and its partner have distributed more than five thousand of the kits, which include items such as soap, underwear and reusable towels, to allow girls to continue attending school while they are menstruating.


“As a girl, I’m scared to go out of the camp on my own”
WAU, South Sudan, 24 November 2016 – Gisela Joseph, 16, lives in a camp for displaced families in Wau, and says boys there won’t leave her in peace, whistling and bullying. She was interviewed as part of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.


Vaccinating children against polio
South Sudan, 17 November 2016 – With partners, UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Health to vaccinate more than 3.3 million children under 5 years across South Sudan against Polio. UNICEF is also supporting social mobilization activities and supplying vaccines and providing logistical support for vaccines and communication materials.


Children in Wau preparing for primary school leaving exam
WAU, South Sudan, 7 November 2016 – Children in Wau are preparing for their primary school leaving exam next month. UNICEF, through our partner War Child Canada, has provided notebooks, pens and mathematics kits to displaced children living in the Protection of Civilians camp.


Nyamal’s story
South Sudan, 6 November 2016 – Nyamal, 7, tells the story of her family’s flight from the fighting that engulfed her village, and their journey to the Protection of Civilians site werhe they now live in a house made of plastic sheeting.


Kai Tap’s story
BENTIU, South Sudan, 5 November 2016 – Kai Tap, 11, got separated from his parents and lost his brother while fleeing renewed fighting in his village. He is now in a Protection of Civilian Camp.


Fleeing Leer to shelter at Bentiu
BENTIU, South Sudan, 4 November 2016 – Thousands of people have fled Leer in recent weeks to escape conflict in the town with many having taken shelter at the UN's Protection of Civilians Site in Bentiu.


On the brink of starvation
AWEIL, South Sudan, 2 November 2016 – "If I did not get this sorghum, my family would have starved. I don’t have a job or money to buy anything else,” said Ajok, who has eight children


145 children released by armed groups in South Sudan – UNICEF
PIBOR, South Sudan, 26 October 2016 – A total of 145 children were today released by armed groups in South Sudan, UNICEF has announced. This is the largest number of children freed since 2015, when 1,775 children were released in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.


Sole breadwinner
AWEIL, South Sudan, 23 October 2016 – Yor Garang, 16, the sole breadwinner in a family of 10, is selling in the market instead of going to school. He earns a living by selling little metal saving boxes, grain scoops and stoves, all of which he has made out of cans. “I have never been to school,” he says.


Selling everything
AWEIL, South Sudan, 22 October 2016 – Akech hopes to sell his bed in a desperate bid to get money to buy food for his family. He has no money to send his two sons to school.


Cucumbers are a luxury
AWEIL, South Sudan, 20 October 2016 – Cucumber seller Marco-Akuei makes little profit and can’t afford to send his children to school.


The skyrocketing price of tomatoes
AWEIL, South Sudan, 19 October 2016 – Acieng Kuan,28 just bought four tiny half ripe tomatoes for five South Sudanese pounds in the market in Aweil, South Sudan. One month ago the same quantity amount of tomatoes would have cost her two pounds or even one pound if she was lucky. "I have no more money to buy any other food than these tomatoes," said Acieng.


Struggling to survive
AWEIL, South Sudan, 14 October 2016 – Conflict and spiraling inflation in South Sudan have left millions struggling to feed themselves.


South Sudan families struggle to feed themselves
AWEIL, South Sudan, 13 October 2016 – Athill’s family has nothing to eat but grass seed. Her severely malnourished children get treatment at a UNICEF-supported health center.


Looting and destruction of health facilities and property
BENTIU, South Sudan, 28 September 2016 – The hospital in Bentiu town was looted and destroyed during the conflict. Without funding UNICEF and partners cannot provide pediatric and maternal health care to children and women in Bentiu.


Play in times of crisis
South Sudan, 26  September 2016 – Play in times of crisis is therapeutic for children. Child-friendly spaces, supported by USAID South Sudan and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency are giving children in South Sudan a chance to enjoy their right to play.


Children in Aweil getting a new school
AWEIL, South Sudan, 20 September 2016 – Thanks to the support of the Global Partnership for Education, a new school is being built to replace the dirt and thatch classrooms that students now use.


Education is making a difference in South Sudan
South Sudan, 19 September 2016 – Even before the conflict broke out in 2013, the education system in South Sudan was struggling: there were not enough schools, not enough trained teachers and no national curriculum. With the conflict, more and more children were forced to drop out. Teachers were forced to leave schools to look for alternative sources of income.


Learning for Peace: South Sudan schools need your help
South Sudan, 19 September 2016 – South Sudan was already one of the most difficult places in the world to be a schoolchild. The two-year conflict has turned an already dire learning situation into a catastrophe for children. In 2015, the Back to Learning campaign set an ambitious target to help out-of-school children in all states realize their right to an education and fulfill their potential. In total, more than 400,000 have been given that chance.

Screening for malaria
AWEIL, South Sudan, 12 September 2016 – In repsonse to an upsurge in malaria in Aweil, more than 7,000 women and children have been screened using a rapid diagnostic test.


For South Sudan’s children, it’s all about the future
RUBKONA TOWN, South Sudan, 7 September 2016 – Displaced children in South Sudan rise early and walk far to school. They’ve seen terrible things, but they are eager to learn.


Raising awareness about cholera
GUMBO, South Sudan, 5 September 2016 – UNICEF and the State Ministry of Health carried out the second cholera mass awareness road show, with quizzes on preventing transmission, live performances, and handwashing and water purification demonstrations.


“I now like school very much, much better than the army.”
South Sudan, 2 September 2016 – Bol, 15, was demobilized and reunited with his family with UNICEF support. He still wants to be a soldier when he grows up, but for now his focus is studying.


South Sudanese refugees flee to Uganda
ELEGU, Uganda, 30 August 2016 – Children board a truck to their new settlement at Elegu reception centre, Uganda.


A generation made to fight: South Sudan’s child soldiers
South Sudan, 30 August 2016 – UNICEF helped free 1,775 former child soldiers in 2015, but fears that growing violence is fueling a new surge in recruitment.


Hundreds of children recruited by armed groups in South Sudan, as violations against women and children increase - UNICEF
JUBA/NAIROBI/NEW YORK, 19 August 2016 – More than 650 children have been recruited into armed groups in South Sudan since the beginning of this year.


Humanitarian workers in South Sudan
South Sudan, 19 August 2016 – Despite the tremendous challenges in South Sudan, UNICEF staff have remained committed to the children and women of the world’s youngest country, delivering assistance to the most vulnerable in the hardest to reach areas.

In South Sudan, child malnutrition worsens as conflict hinders response
JUBA, South Sudan, 04 August 2016 – Millions of people in South Sudan are struggling to feed themselves as a years-long conflict takes its toll on food production and the economy. Children continue to be the most seriously affected, with a sharp increase in the number being treated for malnutrition.


One mother’s heartwrenching story of loss in South Sudan
JUBA, South Sudan, 4 August 2016 – Two years of civil war are devastating South Sudan’s children, with malnutriton reaching emergency levels. Sunday’s daughter, Bismah, is severely malnourished and was admitted for urgent care at a hospital where the number of malnourished children has tripled in the last month.


Supporting children distressed by fighting in South Sudan
JUBA, South Sudan, 21 July 2016 – Children who experienced violent clashes in Juba, South Sudan earlier this month are anxious and afraid. Many require psychological support to help reduce the risk of further distress and disruptions to their well-being.


Sharp rise in suspected cholera cases in South Sudan
JUBA, South Sudan, 20 July 2016 – Amid a rise in the number of suspected cases of cholera in South Sudan, UNICEF is rapidly increasing its response activities.

“Camps have become a way of life” for families fleeing violence in South Sudan
JUBA, South Sudan, 15 July 2016 – Thousands of people continue to live in United Nations displacement sites in Juba, South Sudan, after fleeing intense battles that first erupted in the city a week ago today. Despite a ceasefire that continues to hold, many are still too frightened to return home.


Escaping violence in South Sudan: Lives uprooted, families torn apart 
WAU, South Sudan, 06 July 2016Recent violence in South Sudan has displaced some 65,000 people in and around Wau town. Among them are many children who became separated from their parents as their families fled. Reunification is the goal, but first carers must be found for these unaccompanied children.


© UNICEF/UNI203956/Everett
Susan Andua, 5, plays outside of her home in Nimule, South Sudan. She wants to be a pilot when she grows up.


Turning five with South Sudan
6 June 2016 – On 9 July 2016 South Sudan will turn five, and so will tens of thousands of children in the country who for much of their lives have known only violence, fear and upheaval.


In South Sudan, children uprooted by recent violence receive measles vaccination
WAU, South Sudan, 2 July 2016 – UNICEF is conducting an urgent measles immunization campaign to protect 13,000 children displaced by fighting in the city of Wau, South Sudan.


School is a magical place, but for many children in South Sudan, it’s just a dream
20 May 2016 – Before the current crisis in South Sudan, less than half of all children attended school and only one in ten (and very few girls) completed primary school. The two-year conflict has turned an already dire learning situation into a catastrophe for children – with an additional 413,000 boys and girls forced out of school.


Poetry competition on peace and national unity
18 May 2016 – More than 200 children in Juba participated in a poetry contest to promote national unity and peacebuilding among communities in South Sudan. "Peace is so sweet to me, because I can go to school," said 8-year-old Hafaf
, one of the contestants.


In South Sudan, a bumpy start to a joyful family reunion 
19 May 2016Since the 2013 onset of the violent conflict South Sudan, UNICEF and partners have registered more than 12,000 children for family reunification. At the link, one family’s story of being reunited after two years apart.


Young first-time photographers shine a light on South Sudan’s strife
29 March 2016 – In times of conflict, the psychological toll is especially hard on children. But they often have no way to explain what they are going through.

Nyayow's First Day of School
5 January 2016 – Do you remember your first day of school? For 5-year old Nyayow, it is full of hopes and dreams for a better future.

Changing harmful social norms
South Sudan, 7 December 2015 – How do you make long-lasting change for women and girls in South Sudan? By changing the harmful social norms that lead to gender inequality.

Saved in South Sudan
27 November 2015 – Nyajime Guet in South Sudan, slowly recovering from severe acute malnutrition, gets a fresh chance at life.

The heroes of South Sudan
South Sudan, 4 October 2015 – Mothers like Nyangor are the heroes of South Sudan. While fleeing for her life in Unity State, this mother of 6-month old twins came across two children all alone and made a decision to save their lives.

South Sudan teen starts anew after surviving bullet in the neck
South Sudan, 15 September 2015 – “Even for a million pounds, I won’t go back.” Boto* was 16 when he was released from an armed group in South Sudan along with nearly 1,800 other children. During his time there, he sustained an injury that was untreated for a year – a bullet lodged in his neck.

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.

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.

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.


“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.

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.

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.

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

Information in French

Déclaration du Directeur général de l’UNICEF, Anthony Lake, à propos de la violence contre les enfants au Soudan du Sud
NEW YORK, le 17 juin 2015 – « La violence contre les enfants au Soudan du Sud a atteint un niveau de brutalité sans précédent... »

Les enfants face à une crise nutritionnelle qui empire alors que les combats s’intensifient au Soudan du Sud
DJOUBA, Soudan du Sud, le 27 mai 2015 – La vie de près de 250 000 enfants est sérieusement menacée car la sécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle se détériore rapidement dans certaines régions du Soudan du Sud, a signalé aujourd’hui l’UNICEF.

L'UNICEF condamne l'enlèvement d'enfants par un groupe armé au Soudan du Sud
DJOUBA/NAIROBI/NEW YORK, 21 février 2015 – L’UNICEF condamne dans les termes les plus vigoureux l'enlèvement de dizaines de garçons, dont certains âgés d'à peine 13 ans, par un groupe armé près de Malakal dans le nord du Soudan du Sud.

De plus

Information in Spanish

Los niños constituyen una quinta parte de las muertes por cólera en Sudán del Sur, dice UNICEF
JUBA/NAIROBI, 7 de julio de 2015 – Juba y Bor han registrado hasta ahora más de 700 casos de cólera que han causado 32 muertes – de las cuales una de cada cinco son niños menores de cinco años, informó hoy UNICEF.

Declaración de Anthony Lake, director ejecutivo de UNICEF, sobre la brutal violencia contra los niños en Sudán del Sur
NUEVA YORK, 17 de junio de 2015 – “La violencia contra los niños ha alcanzado un nuevo nivel de brutalidad en Sudán del Sur...”

Los niños se enfrentan a un empeoramiento de la crisis nutricional al intensificarse los combates en Sudán del Sur
JUBA, Sudán del Sur, 27 de mayo de 2015 – Las vidas de casi 250.000 niños están en un riesgo considerable debido a que la seguridad alimentaria y nutricional se está deteriorando rápidamente en algunas partes de Sudán del Sur, dijo hoy UNICEF.


Information in Arabic

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

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