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UNICEF says millions of children bear brunt of South Sudan crisis

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan children are bearing the brunt of a crisis that entered its fourth year, the UN children’s agency said in a report released on Friday.

UNICEF said the children have been victims of malnutrition, disease, forced recruitment, violence and the loss of schooling, and are growing up in a world of violence and fear and hunger, robbing them of their childhood.

Leila Pakkala, UNICEF’s Regional Director in Eastern and Southern Africa, said no child should ever experience such horrors and deprivations.

“Yet children in South Sudan are facing them on a daily basis. The children of South Sudan urgently require a peaceful and protective environment,” Pakkala said.

In releasing the Childhood under Attack report, UNICEF warned that new funding is essential in order to provide critical assistance to children and women.

The UN children’s agency said it requires 183 million U.S. dollars in new funding in 2018 in order to deliver life-saving supplies and services to stave off hunger and disease. Currently UNICEF has a funding gap of 77 percent.

The report says years of insecurity and upheaval have had a ‘staggering impact on children’, threatening an entire generation.

“The fighting forces must immediately end all grave violations against children. This includes releasing all children from their ranks, as they have pledged to do,” says the report.

According to UNICEF, getting assistance to those most in need continues to be a challenge in many insecure areas of the country.

Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, said for children to have a fair chance in life, they need proper nutrition and care.

“They need protection from fighting and from diseases. They need a safe environment so they can learn and play. If children are not given a fair chance in life, what future will the country itself have when those children grow up?” asked Mdoe.

The UN agency called on government forces and armed groups, as well as the international community, to do everything they can to end this conflict so South Sudan’s children, and the country itself, will have a future to look forward to.

“All parties to the conflict must allow unrestricted humanitarian access to all areas of the country and immediately end attacks on humanitarian workers and supplies,” UNICEF said.

Humanitarian organizations in South Sudan are looking for the full implementation of a recent presidential order calling for unrestricted access to those in urgent need of aid.

The UN agency has been delivering lifesaving assistance to children across the country since the crisis started in December 2013, including treatment of more than 600,000 with severe acute malnutrition, vaccination against measles for more than 3.3 million children, provision of primary health care services to more than 3.6 million children, and supporting the access to safe water supply for 1.8 million people.

“This has been done despite the huge challenges faced in a country that ranks among the world’s most dangerous for aid workers,” UNICEF said.

Since the conflict started in 2013, 95 aid workers have been killed, including 25 killed so far this year.



IGAD asked to show resolute determination in driving South Sudan peace process

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) for South Sudan , Festus Mogae, has appealed to leaders of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to remain united under one voice and to encourage the South Sudanese leadership to seize the opportunity to restore the Peace Agreement to center stage.

The Chairman made the remarks on Sunday during the 59th extra-ordinary session of the IGAD Council of Ministers in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, according to a statement released in connection with the meeting.

“I appeal to IGAD to be resolute, without fear or favor, in their determination to ensure the success of the revitalization forum. This is a huge opportunity that cannot be wasted or squandered,” said Mogae.

The chairman has underlined that the region must approach the revitalization with strength of purpose.

“Collectively, it is critical that the IGAD Heads of State and Governments prevail over the South Sudanese leadership to rethink the current trajectory of the country and take the necessary steps to restore peace and inclusive governance,” he said.

The Chairman has called on all the South Sudanese participants at the High Level Revitalization Forum to remain focused on the desperate plight of the people of South Sudan.

“For them, we must stop the fighting, end the violence, deal with criminality, prevent sexual and human rights abuses, reduce human suffering and address the economic crisis,” said Mogae.

“I reiterate my call to all South Sudanese stakeholders that, as they come to the table in search of a sustainable political solution, they must renounce violence and demonstrate the political will to compromise and accommodate one another,” he said.

“It is simply not possible to overstate the fundamental necessity for an immediate cessation of all hostilities. Without that, we stand no chance of stemming the tide of displacement, enabling unhindered delivery of aid to those in need or contemplating the return of IDPs (internally displaced persons) and refugees to their homes”, he said.

The JMEC has been established among others to oversee the implementation of the agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan.


Cholera kills more than 400 people in South Sudan since mid 2016: WHO

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- A cholera outbreak in South Sudan has claimed 462 lives and affected 21,571 others since the onset of the outbreak on June 18, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

WHO said in a statement issued in Juba that this has been the longest and largest outbreak in magnitude and geographical extent, its impact exacerbated by the protracted crisis, insecurity, displacements and declining access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

“As part of the ongoing cholera response, the Ministry of Health of South Sudan with support from WHO and partners has deployed cholera vaccines to complement traditional cholera response strategies in several high-risk populations and locations,” it said.

According to the WHO Epidemiologist Joseph Wamala, the use of Oral Cholera Vaccine will bridge the transition from cholera treatment and emergency water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions to multi-sectoral interventions including long-term WASH interventions to prevent recurrence of outbreaks in cholera hotspots.

“From the 2.18 million doses secured by WHO in 2017, a total of 1.13 million doses have already been deployed with 879, 239 doses used during the first round and 254,340 doses utilized in second round campaigns in 16 cholera-affected and high-risk populations countrywide,” the UN agency said.

WHO in collaboration with the ministry of health and partners, recently resolved to develop a revised cholera response strategy that is aligned with the Global Cholera Roadmap 2030.

The strategy will aim to reduce cholera deaths by 90 percent before 2030 in South Sudan, WHO said.

To attain this target, the overall leadership and coordination of cholera prevention and response activities will be enhanced through the formation of a multi-sectoral cholera control program

“When used alongside other interventions for improving access to safe water and sanitation, oral cholera vaccines are very effective for cholera prevention and control, giving protection to those at risk, especially when the recommended two doses are administered,” said Pinyi, Director General for Preventive Services at the Ministry of Health of South Sudan.

The campaigns in Kapoeta South, Kapoeta East, and Tonj East are already underway from Dec. 12 to 17.


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