Juba, January 10, 2011—Humanitarian agency World Vision
is urging the international community to increase the focus on the needs of children during and beyond this week’s referendum in Southern Sudan, given the vulnerability of children to risks of neglect, exploitation and abuse. Children and teenagers make up more than half of Southern Sudan’s population.
“It is important to keep our eyes on the health, protection and future of the children of this vast country, more so now as the temptation is for the world to concentrate on the political side,” says World Vision South Sudan’s program director, Edwin Asante. “The future belongs to the children, and the referendum is just the beginning.”
World Vision makes this appeal at a time when the number of people returning from the North to South Sudan, where one out of seven children dies before reaching age five, is growing significantly. The number of registered returnees has swelled to 120,000 in early January from just over 50,000 in mid-December. The rapid influx is straining host communities in the South that already face increased shortages of basic human needs such as food, shelter, water, health care and sanitation.
Children are more vulnerable to diseases while in transit, in crowds and when exposed to adverse changes of weather and environment. The number of children and teenagers that are separated from their parents and guardians also tends to increase in times of social disturbance.
“World Vision and other organizations have stockpiled essential relief provisions such as emergency health and food supplies and drinking water, but this alone will not be enough,“ said Asante. “Access to camps is also vital. With such a large movement of people there is an increased risk of outbreak of diseases as has already been seen in some transit camps.”
These large numbers of returnees from the North and the potential of instability and unrest in some areas around this week’s referendum vote and its results, requires deliberate efforts by the international community to protect children. As a result, World Vision
is calling on local, regional and global leaders to prioritize ensuring peace and protection as a basis of lasting development and better lives for all Sudanese.Fast Facts on South Sudan
Sources: UNDP and Southern Sudan Commission for Census, Statistics and Evaluation Notes to editor:
- South Sudan’s total population is 8.26 million
- More than half live below the poverty line of less than $1 (US) per day
- One out of four adults is literate
- 72% of the population is below the age of 30
- 83% of the population is rural; most depend on crops or animal husbandry as main income
Through the Referendum period, World Vision experts and spokespeople are on the ground in South Sudan, including Warrap State, Juba and in Malakal covering the Upper Nile region. They can be contacted for media interviews on the numbers given above or to arrange media interviews for key spokespeople.World Vision
is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve the world’s poor – regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit, www.worldvision.org/press