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UNICEF Deputy Executive Director calls for concerted efforts to tackle key issues for children in Southern Sudan

JUBA, Southern Sudan, 27 March 2011 – UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, Hilde F. Johnson today ended a four-day trip to Southern Sudan where she had been to assess and acquaint herself with the situation and progress made for women and children.
Ms. Johnson arrived in Sudan, March 18 and visited Darfur and Abyei before coming down to Southern Sudan, March 23. Her visit comes two months after a historic referendum in which Southerners overwhelmingly voted for separation from the north and are due to form their own country, July 9.  The referendum was part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement to end the two decade long war between the North and the South.

“I am encouraged with the progress made for children who are the future of Southern Sudan”, Ms. Johnson said. “The transitional period for Southern Sudan provides a unique opportunity to put children at the centre of policy and decision making and to build on the gains made”, she added.

Ms. Johnson met with the President and other senior officials of the Government of Southern Sudan and also visited children’s programmes in Unity State.

During the meeting with the President, she discussed the need for prioritization of children’s issues such as birth registration and immunization, and urged for an increased investment in social services.

Southern Sudan is recovering from decades of war that has devastated the infrastructure, leaving thousands of children without access to schools, basic health care, and clean water.  In Southern Sudan, one out of every 7 children dies before his or her fifth birthday.  Only about 10 per cent of children are fully vaccinated, and less than 50 per cent of all children receive 5 years of primary education.

“We need to confront the current glaring realities of deprivation.  Now is the time to act to deliver on our  commitments for the children of Southern Sudan. The key for their future lies with us. ”, Ms Johnson further said.

Although significant progress has been made over the years in the provision of basic social services — including an integrated management of childhood illness, increase in school enrolment, and the development of legislation that protects the rights of children — more still needs to be done.

“To enable the progress being made  for children to accelerate, the UN and its partners, the international community and the South Sudan government must invest in the necessary systems, structures and human resources”, Ms. Johnson said.

Ms. Johnson also expressed concern over the impact on children’s programmes of localized conflicts in parts of Southern Sudan.

“Sustainable peace is the only viable path for improved quality of life, increased prosperity, growth and development for the people of Southern Sudan”, Ms. Johnson said.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For more information, please contact:
Swangin Bismarck, Communication officer, UNICEF Southern Sudan Area programme, Juba
Mobile +249(0) 919 261 580 / +256(0) 477 103 390:




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