The UN children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday that it needs 197.8 million U.S. dollars in 2021 to assist about 5.1 million South Sudanese, including 3.7 million children affected by conflict and disease outbreaks.
The UNICEF said that many children and their families are affected by concurrent inter-communal violence, armed conflict, cyclical drought and perennial flooding.
“Children in South Sudan are growing up thinking crises are normal,” Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF country director said in a statement issued in Juba.
It said that at least 7.5 million people are expected to be in dire need of humanitarian assistance in 2021.
“They (children) are often faced with empty stomachs, exposed and more susceptible to communicable diseases and many find themselves homeless due to severe flooding. This should not be normal for any child,” added Ayoya.
The UNICEF revealed that the food and nutrition crisis is expected to continue in 2021, due to few gains achieved this year in addressing food insecurity and severe flooding in larger parts of the country.
It said that 267,000 children under-five were treated this year for severe acute malnutrition, adding that 312,000 children have already been vaccinated against measles.
The UN agency also said that it provided 330,000 pregnant women and children with insecticide-treated nets.
“These results were achieved even though only half of UNICEF’s humanitarian appeal for 2020 was funded and despite growing insecurity, including violence against humanitarian workers and looting of humanitarian supplies,” it said.
South Sudan aid workers have increasingly been attacked by armed gunmen since October, and at least nine humanitarian workers were killed this year.
UNICEF said it was concerned about the attacks on humanitarian workers which has seen some humanitarian agencies suspend work in areas they deem insecure.
“We are extremely concerned about the increased violence against humanitarian actors. We are asking for all humanitarians to be granted unhindered access to people in need, for the looting of relief supplies to end, and for perpetrators to be held accountable, so we can safely provide humanitarian assistance,” said Ayoya.
At least 124 aid workers, mostly South Sudanese have lost their lives in the line of duty since the conflict broke out in late 2013.
UNICEF disclosed that it aims to treat 272,978 children under five with severe acute malnutrition, vaccinate 540,000 children against measles, and provide water to 817,000 people in 2021.
In addition, it will assist some 127,000 children and caregivers with mental health services and psychosocial support and also ensure 770,000 children’s access to formal or non-formal education, including assisting some 30,000 households with humanitarian cash transfers across sectors.
Ayoya noted that investing in children is a key strategy to ensure sustainable development in South Sudan and to build a prosperous and peaceful country.