JUBA, South Sudan, 26 September 2019 – Two new handbooks, designed to help children recover from stress, anxiety and trauma, are being launched today in Juba. Since 2013, according to UNICEF, an estimated one million children are suffering from psychosocial distress after years of conflict, violence, forced recruitments and displacement. Caregivers have also experienced trauma, struggling to provide necessary care for their children.
UNICEF together with its partners has developed a handbook for facilitators working in day-centers (child friendly spaces), schools and communities. The handbook contains activities to do with the children as well as practical advice on how to build the children’s own coping mechanisms. The handbook is accompanied by a trainer’s guide for teachers, social workers and other facilitators on how to use the handbook. By making the handbook available across the country, UNICEF and its partners are moving the assistance closer to where the children are.
“Helping children coping with their traumas is unlocking their potential,” said Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan. “Stress and anxiety can ruin childhoods by affecting children’s ability to study, socialize and develop. With appropriate help, children can learn to live with their past experiences and turn into productive young people who can help rebuild their nation.”
Girls used by armed forces and armed groups is another vulnerable group of children who need support transitioning back to a civilian life and cope with often difficult experiences. UNICEF has developed in collaboration with its partners a practical guide for reintegration of these girls into the communities. The book is informed by research carried out in South Sudan, but also by practical experience from child protection partners. It is presented as a toolbox for field workers. It contains practical advice on how to identify girls used by armed forces and armed groups, how to ensure their access to education, livelihood and vocational training and how to build acceptance strategies when the communities are rejecting the children.
The two handbooks – “Practical Guide for The Socio-Economic Reintegration of Girls Formerly Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups” and “the Facilitator’s Manual for Psychosocial Support Activities in Child Friendly Spaces, Schools and Communities” – were developed in collaboration with the Technical Working Groups in South Sudan on Psychosocial Support, on Children associated with armed forces and armed groups (CAAFAG) and on Mental Health and PSS (MHPSS) and with Child Soldier International.
“When we are developing tools for the future we need the experience of our many partners on the ground to ensure these handbooks and guides will have the impact we are aiming for,” said Mohamed Ayoya. “Children’s mental health is an area of great concern. I am glad we have all hands-on deck through partners and the child protection cluster, as the country’s future depends on healthy children.”
The launch of the two guides come at a critical time. This year the world commemorates the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. The Convention protects children's rights by setting standards in health care; education; and legal, civil and social services. UNICEF believes these guides are important tools for child protection partners to implement what is envisioned in the Convention.
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.
For more information about UNICEF and its work in South Sudan visit: www.unicef.org/southsudan