The youngest nation in the world, ostensibly the child-nation, is attacking its children through its incessant troubles. South Sudan has been engaged in a civil war for at least five years now. Most people have been focusing on issues like the economy or the political climate, and it is a wonder that the suffering of the people of South Sudan has not been at the forefront of more discussions. In particular, the most vulnerable demographic, children, has not been given any voice at all, especially from major international media outlets.
“Childhood under attack” is the title of the latest UNICEF report on the South Sudan conflict. The report was released in December 2017, and it reveals some staggering figures about the welfare of children in the unsettled nation. The report states that more than half of the child population in South Sudan is experiencing problems that children should not be forced to endure in the 21st century. Innocent souls should not have to face issues like malnutrition, forced military recruitment, violence, and illiteracy.
Almost three million kids in South Sudan were experiencing food problems when the UNICEF report was released. A few months later, that figure is certainly well past the three million mark. In addition, another one million children have malnutrition issues. Furthermore, although shelter is a crucial ingredient for the growth of a child, in South Sudan around 2.4 million kids do not have access to shelter. As if this is not enough, figures show that 1 in 13 kids will not finish primary school, excluding the two million already out of school. The impressionable minds of these children are definitely going to be affected by all this violence and instability. In fact, the trauma of this conflict has psychologically tormented around one million kids. In addition, almost 20,000 have been forced to pick up arms, with approximately 2,300 child casualties so far. All these statistics still do not even mention other issues such as rape and sexual assault.
However, South Sudan is just a case study. The same horrors are faced by children from other war-stricken regions in the world such as Somalia, Syria, Nigeria, and many more. As much as NGOs are stepping up to try and fill a humanitarian gap, it ultimately becomes the responsibility of the entire world to give these children a voice and put pressure on key stakeholders to act. It is also crucial to step up and raise funds for NGOs such as UNICEF that will aid children all around the world. For example, for 2018, UNICEF need about $138 million. As it stands, the organization is operating with a financial gap of over 70%. All this abuse to children is unacceptable, and the world needs to wake up. While perhaps a cliché, it is undeniably true that children are the future.
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