Thousands of children forced to flee escalating violence in South Sudan
Fashoda County, Upper Nile, 12 December 2022 -- Escalating violence in Upper Nile State, is forcing thousands of people – mostly women and children – to flee for their lives as clashes between armed groups surge in Fashoda County in the North of South Sudan.
UNICEF joins the humanitarian community in strongly condemning the violence, in which reports of deaths, injuries, and abductions continue to rise. 75 percent of those fleeing conflict are women and children, running in search of safety to neighbouring settlements, UN bases and others into the bush and swamps. Thousands have reportedly travelled to the border or crossed into Sudan.
“It is a deeply disturbing and alarming situation unfolding in Upper Nile State,” says Jesper Moller, Acting UNICEF Representative in South Sudan. “Grave human rights violations are being reported against children and women, along with increasing numbers of deaths and injuries. Children have been separated from their families, and schools have become shelter for those fleeing for their lives,” says Moller.
Three Primary Healthcare facilities have been suspended in the area with reports of looting and destruction to the facilities stopping vital health and nutrition services for women and children.
Children in South Sudan continue to be in grave danger, facing a humanitarian crisis where hunger and malnutrition are at record levels, 70 percent of children are out of school and disease and gender-based violence are rife.
UNICEF and its humanitarian partners are scaling up their response to this unfolding conflict, deploying essential emergency supplies to affected areas including tents for emergency health clinics and safe spaces; medicine and health supplies; Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for malnutrition treatment; and hygiene kits. Psychosocial support needs are overwhelming. Emergency responders are monitoring the evolving situation and supporting the lifesaving needs of women and children.
Between 22,000 to 40,000 people are so far reported displaced or on the move from the Kodok area on the West Bank of the White Nile River. Many families continue to cross the border to Sudan in search of safety, while others flee south towards the State Capital, Malakal where more than 2600 (and rising everyday) additional people have sought protection following years of violence and instability in the region.
The Malakal Protection of Civilians Camp (POC) is over capacity, services are stretched, and there are growing concerns that tensions may escalate, given the poor living conditions. Access to the children in need is challenging and UNICEF is working with partners to ensure safe passage for personnel and supplies to reach to those displaced and those who remain in the conflict zones.
“No violence against children is justifiable and we must see an end to the fighting – children’s lives depend on it,” says Moller. “UNICEF and our partners are on the ground and will continue to provide life-saving services for children and families to minimise injuries, and disease and protect lives and well-being of children,” says Moller.
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