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Since the beginning of the conflict in December 2013, more than a million people are fleeing. With continued fighting, the spread of cholera and the threat of famine, the situation is escalating dramatically. Without humanitarian assistance, the lives of thousands of children will soon be in danger.
South Sudan is on red alert: this war-torn country is threatened with one of the worst famines since that of three years ago in the Horn of Africa. Given the violent struggles, countless fields were unable to be cultivated. Over 3.7 million people, of which 740,000 are children under 5 years of age, are affected by the food crisis. Thousands of children are already suffering from severe malnutrition. According to the United Nations, 50,000 children risk dying from starvation if they receive no assistance.
The cholera outbreak is exacerbating the situation: “With the start of this year’s rainy season, the disease threatens to spread rapidly throughout the country and the crowded refugee camps”, says Steve Ringel, Crisis Coordinator from Terre des homes who visited two of these camps in July. Access to health care is difficult, many health facilities were destroyed by the fighting and can no longer be used. “Families and children have nothing. The situation is critical.” Ongoing fighting and severe weather are affecting the much-needed humanitarian assistance massively.
Among all these victims, children suffer the most, children who have been separated from their parents whilst fleeing, or who have lost their parents or who have had to witness terrible atrocities. “Children who are the witnesses or the victims of violence suffer from severe psychological trauma,” says Joy Cheung, Program Coordinator with Terre des homes in the refugee camps in Juba.
Terre des hommes is on site to provide support to the children affected by the armed conflict and forced displacement. In a kind of nursery, children and adolescents from 3 to 16 years old can take part in various activities and receive comfort and psychological support. Since the schools in the country have been closed since the outbreak of the violence, children have no access to education – thereby risking another lost generation. Terre des hommes is therefore committed to ensuring the fundamental right to education in the refugee camps. In these child-friendly zones, trained teachers give children lessons so that they can continue their education.
The plight and needs of the affected population remain enormous. They need shelter, food and medical and psychological assistance. In order to ensure this humanitarian assistance, financial support is urgently needed. Only in this way can children and their families survive the consequences of this conflict and look to the future with renewed optimism.
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