Children fleeing South Sudan face further threats

by Plan UK | Plan UK
Friday, 16 May 2014 17:42 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Nearly one in four children sheltering from South Sudan fighting in a refugee camp have seen a rise in sexual violence, warns Plan International.

More than 100,000 villagers are now based in the Gambella region of Ethiopia after escaping their homeland.

Aid workers for Plan are drawing up education and child protection projects to help children caught up in the crisis.

“The majority of the arrivals are still women and children,” says Plan’s Interim Country Director in Ethiopia, John Chaloner.

“They are exposed to risk and threats associated with sudden flight from armed violence. Physical, emotional and psychological violence increases their vulnerability.

“Children have witnessed the distress associated with family split-up, forced migration and abductions.”

More than one million people have been driven from their homes by violence in South Sudan since January.

Field reports from Gambella reveal that one in four under-14s is involved in child labour and more than one in three reporting cases of separation.

School-aged children account for a high proportion of the refugees, yet education provision is very limited in the camps.

A lack of learning supplies, temporary schools, insufficient teachers and no play areas mean children have little support.

Aid workers for Plan intend to set-up temporary schools, train teachers and provide psychosocial support for traumatized children.

“There are gaps in education and child protection,” says Mr Chaloner. “This could lead to an increase in sexual abuse, especially for adolescent girls, and a deterioration in the psychosocial well-being of children.”

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