South Sudan urged to hold onto peace or risk losing another generation to war
As South Sudan’s opposition leader Riek Machar returns to country’s capital Juba for the first time since a civil war erupted more than two years ago, World Vision has warned that the country risks losing another generation of children to war, unless the country holds onto the latest opportunity to have peace.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million driven from their homes in the conflict. An El Nino-induced drought coupled with an economic crunch and fighting has exacerbated the crisis that has led to more than 5.3 million individuals - close to half of the country’s population – in need of food aid.
Speaking from Malakal, Jeremiah Nathaniel Young, the Policy and Advocacy Advisor for World Vision South Sudan said: “If the peace process continues to falter, the number of those currently suffering will only increase in the coming months as families run out of coping options.
“Machar's return to Juba is a positive step towards peace and the formation of South Sudan's Transitional Government of National Unity. World Vision is confident that if the peace process is allowed to proceed, the children, families, and communities of South Sudan will seize the opportunity to actively contribute to the transition from living a life defined by fragility, to one of resilience,” he explained.
According to Unicef, South Sudan has the highest percentage of unimmunised children, with 61 per cent not receiving the most basic childhood vaccines. The UN agency also says it has noted a 30 per cent increase of children suffering from severe malnutrition due to fighting and lack of food, since the beginning of the year.
Arthur Mist, the World Vision UK Regional Portfolio Manager for East Africa, said: “At World Vision, our priority is to help the huge numbers of people affected by the fighting in South Sudan, who have been left in an extremely vulnerable position, in the hope that one day a peaceful resolution can be found. It’s clear that if the world fails to address the distress and fear that these children feel, there will be long-term implications. Protecting children now has the potential to secure a better future for South Sudan. We call for a permanent and lasting peace and urge donor states to fully fund the Humanitarian Response appeal.”