“The lifelong consequences for children forced, one way or another, into armed groups cannot be understated,” said James East, World Vision International’s emergency communications director. “These children will have missed out on crucial elements of childhood, and been exposed to the kind of abuse and violence no child should ever experience. We must listen to these children because they can provide solutions to the issues. They are the best advocates for the change needed in their countries.”
More time and resources, from governments, leaders and organizations, need to be spent on prevention — ensuring children aren’t forced into armed groups in the first place, said East.
“Children should never be forced to see joining armed groups as an option. But sadly, inequality, poverty, a lack of governance and child protection systems, all contribute to forcing children in this direction. All of these exist in South Sudan, to disturbing degrees.”
“These children live in fear. They want a normal life and for the sake of the country’s future, we must make this a priority,” East added. “We continue to ask the Government of South Sudan and the international community to prioritize the needs of children while working toward an end to the conflict.”
The five things children affected by armed conflict need most:
- The basics — water, food, shelter, sanitation, health
- Space to be heard
- Jobs and skills training
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Notes to editors:
- World Vision works with rehabilitated child soldiers in a number of countries including Uganda and Myanmar, but will not be working directly with the released child soldiers in South Sudan.
- For interviews with James East, or former child soldiers, please contact World Vision.
- Copies of Fear and Want are available here.
About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.
- Long road to recovery as children are rehabilitated, reunited and reintegrated.
- Children in South Sudan live in fear, can’t access school, are away from home, recent report finds.