One year on, a glimmer of hope in South Sudan conflict

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Children in South Sudan. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

South Sudan’s one-year-old conflict is being marked with sickness and suffering but there is a chance of improving conditions there soon, according to the UN’s children’s agency.

Declaring “a window of opportunity” in the worst hit areas now that the rainy season is over, UNICEF said aid could start to reach communities once the muds and waters dried up.

Here’s their spokesperson Sarah Crowe on the scale of the problem:

“What we’re seeing is a future for a generation of children in South Sudan is really being stolen by this conflict, it’s driven hundreds of thousands of children from their homes, schools and communities, subjecting them to violence, malnutrition and disease.”

Child malnutrition has doubled in the last year with around 80,000 children affected, the spokesperson said.

Ms Crowe added that conditions had deteriorated in South Sudan with children subject to disease, schools wrecked and UN warehouses looted.

The situation is particularly acute in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states, she said.

Around three-quarters of a million children alone are believed to be internally displaced in the country according to UNICEF, 326,000 of them live as refugees.

In a bid to reduce the risk of disease linked to crowded camp conditions, the UN agency has given measles vaccinations to 700,000 children and polio protection to another 600,000.

UNICEF has also given 1.9 million children a vitamin A supplement to boost their immunity, its spokesperson said.

South Sudan is the world’s youngest country after declaring independence three years ago.

The two long wars which preceded that stretched back to 1960 and are believed to have killed two and a half million people.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

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