Tens of Thousands of Vulnerable Children Fleeing Chaos of South Sudan War Alone - Save the Children Urges Parties to Reach an Immediate Peace Deal

Fairfield, Conn. (August 17, 2015) — As the deadline for a peace agreement in South Sudan looms today, Save the Children is urging both parties to the conflict to reach a deal that will enable the humanitarian community to help get the world’s youngest country on the road to recovery.

Since the onset of conflict in December 2013, some 1.6 million people have been displaced within South Sudan and a further 600,000 are seeking refuge in neighboring countries. The conflict has had a significant impact on the situation for children including ongoing reports of grave violations being committed, more than 400,000 children forced out of school, and increasing rates of malnutrition.

Save the Children is witnessing exceptionally high numbers of unaccompanied and separated children, including almost 7,000 in South Sudan and more than 31,000 in neighboring countries. For example, in the Gambella region of western Ethiopia, 66% of the 200,000 refugees are children and ten per cent are unaccompanied or separated.

Peter Walsh, Save the Children’s County Director in South Sudan, says: “We’re worried by the significant numbers of children separated from their families due to displacement and conflict, many of whom are undertaking long and treacherous journeys across South Sudan alone.

“The conflict has had a devastating impact on children, many of whom are severely distressed due to the trauma they have witnessed. The situation has placed children at increased risks of violence, abuse, exploitation and recruitment into armed groups.

“South Sudan is now facing a double blow in humanitarian terms, with an unfolding hunger crisis in addition to the conflict and associated displacement.”

Unable to plant and harvest crops owing to the conflict, and with spiralling food prices, 4.6 million people in South Sudan are now facing severe food insecurity. Much of the country is now classified as ‘emergency’ on the UN’s scale to measure food crises and a quarter of a million children are severely malnourished, which risks troubling long-term impacts including stunting.

Save the Children is calling for:

  • An immediate cessation of hostilities by all parties to the conflict and the signing of a peace agreement
  • Humanitarian access to all affected populations, including the freedom of agencies to distribute food aid and provide services to vulnerable communities
  • An end to violence against children and grave violations, including the use of child soldiers and the occupation and closure of schools

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