UNICEF to raise over $150 million for children in South Sudan

UNICEF to raise over $150 million for children in South Sudan
A UNICEF staffer carries a visibly malnourished child (Photo Courtesy)

The United Nation’s International Children’s Emergency Fund has pledged to raise $183.6 million geared towards saving children in the country.

The UNICEF’S Chief of Field Operations Mads Oyens said that the funds would be directed towards improving the welfare of 4.1 million children that are struck by malnutrition in the country.

“We have been reaching children, we have reached around 3.9 million children this year with different types of intervention and we are looking forward to reaching 4.1 million children next year. Children who are impacted by malnutrition as well as conflict and flooding,” said Oyen.

He estimated that a huge number of children would be in need of services next year given the impacts of conflict, floods which trigger malnutrition.

“We are looking at the structural malnutrition that is something that we have a very strong response to in South Sudan. We expect about 313 thousand children in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition, which is something that is lifesaving and children who are untreated for that will suffer lifelong developmental disabilities,” he said.

“But we are also looking at reaching 5.2 million children with essential health services and 5.9 million people lack access to safe water, 2.7 million children lack caregivers and need service and 3.4 million children who are in need of educational support, so we have very large challenges ahead of us.”

He said that they struggled to ensure that children access health, nutrition and education. He said that it was hard to predict where disaster would appear within the country, therefore it was important to be ready beforehand.

“We struggle to maintain those services and for us, it is very important to try to maintain those services. And also allow children to access those services physically because if they can get there, they can get help,” he added.

He appreciated their donors for their swift response and asked for their continued support saying that the vulnerability of children in South Sudan was very high.

Earlier reports

According to a report on the situation of children in the country ahead of the Independence Day celebrations, 4.5 million children were recorded to be in need of support.

The report also indicated that the child mortality rate in the country was one of the highest in the whole world with an estimation of one among ten children unable to reach their fifth birthday. Malnutrition and limited access to education were levelled among the challenges faced by children.

“The hope and optimism that children and families in South Sudan felt at the birth of their country in 2011 have slowly turned to desperation and hopelessness,” said Henrietta Fore, the UNICEF Executive Director.  

“The childhood of many 10-year-old children in South Sudan today has been beset by violence, crises and rights abuses,” she added. 

The UN children’s agency promised to improve the challenges that children face.

“Child rights are not respected here in South Sudan: the right to go to school, the right to eat, the right to protection, the right to security…so many rights that are not being given to us,” Christine Saida, a UNICEF Child Reporter in South Sudan, told journalists during the bi-weekly press briefing at the UN Office in Geneva. 

“The children in South Sudan are facing many crises, including child abduction, cattle raiding, communal conflict, displacement, violence in the country, gender-based violence. Flooding and violence are making things worse for children, contributing to high levels of malnutrition.”