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South Sudanese children say hunger forces them to marry and commit crimes

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South Sudanese children say hunger forces them to marry and commit crimes

We want to be educated but how can a child go to school and learn on an empty stomach

LONDON, UK, September 23, 2021 / APO Group / –

Children in South Sudan say hunger is forcing more young people to drop out of school, putting girls at risk of early marriage and sexual exploitation, and forcing some boys to commit crimes, a Save the study finds. Children published Thursday at the United Nations General Assembly. Assembly.

The children’s rights organization interviewed 65 children aged 9 to 17 in five communities in the world’s newest country on how they were dealing with COVID-19, hunger and conflict in Classes. The consultations found that many children reported feeling dizzy and lethargic from lack of food and unable to concentrate, which affected their learning, socialization, mood and behavior.

The children said that in order to cope, some boys engaged in violent acts, such as theft, robbery, petty crime, and some girls were sexually exploited as a means of generating income for food. Other ways to cope with hunger included playing with other children and reading to distract from hunger pangs, sharing meals, reducing food intake, and consuming trees. wild.

South Sudan faces worst food crisis in history as it marks 10 years of independence, with at least 7.2 million people, or 65% of the population, on the brink of famine with civil war , climatic shocks and high food prices fueling the situation. Some 1.4 million children are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition this year, the highest number since 2013.

“I left our house because my mother died and my father wanted to marry me, so I ran away and at the moment I have no support so I work with people so I can eat”, a teenager , Aamira *, told Save the Children during consultations.

“We want to be educated but how can a child go to school and learn on an empty stomach? said adolescents Achol * and Mabior *.

Children who participated in the group consultations in August talked about surviving by collecting empty bottles and other rubbish to sell in local markets, collecting firewood or water for people, brewing alcohol and fishing.

Children who managed to stay in school appreciated the opportunity and reported being much more aware of the risks of child labor and early marriage.

South Sudan is one of the countries whose education system is at “extreme risk” of collapsing, according to a Save the Children report, “Build Forward Better,” released earlier this month. The study found that education was on the brink of collapse in 48 countries, with others facing ‘extreme risks’ including DRC, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Mali and Libya. Syria and Yemen follow closely behind

Save the Children CEO Inger Ashing, who is due to speak at the United Nations high-level virtual event “Protecting Children, Invisible Victims of Armed Conflict and COVID-19”, said it was important that children affected by armed conflict do not remain invisible in the post -The recovery from COVID and children’s rights have been respected and needs have been taken into account.

“We need to pay close attention to their recommendations and ensure that we take swift action to better protect children and education systems from conflict and the climate crisis,” Ms. Ashing said.

“Schools protect children from the physical dangers around them, such as child recruitment or child, early and forced marriage.

Save the Children has been working with and for children, their families and communities in South Sudan since 1991, providing access to education, health care and nutritional support, and helping families with food security and to means of subsistence. Our child protection programs support vulnerable children, including unaccompanied and separated children and those affected by violence.

In response to the current crisis, Save the Children supports hungry households and livelihoods with cash transfers, promotes positive nutrition and infant and young child feeding practices, and distributes a emergency food aid.

* Names have been changed to protect the identity of the children involved.

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