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UN Reports Grim Childhood for South Sudan's Kids


FILE - A U.N. peacekeeper keeps watch as children gather in a camp for displaced civilians in Juba, South Sudan, June 17, 2017.

More than half of South Sudan's children have suffered abuse, trauma and hunger over the past four years of war, the United Nations Children's Fund says.

According to the report "Childhood Under Attack" — released on the fourth anniversary of the start of the war — more than 2,300 children have been killed or injured since South Sudan erupted into conflict in December 2013. Among those who are living, around three million have very little to eat.

More than one million of those children are acutely malnourished, including 280,000 who suffer from acute severe malnutrition, said UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac.

"A child suffering from acute severe malnutrition is a child who is at risk of dying, at least nine times more likely to die than a child who has the correct nutrition," Boulierac said. "Also, child rights violations — in total, more than 117,000 children have been affected in reported incidents of grave violations against children since the beginning of the conflict."

FILE - Children cross a body of water to reach a registration area prior to a food distribution carried out by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Thonyor, Leer state, South Sudan.
FILE - Children cross a body of water to reach a registration area prior to a food distribution carried out by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Thonyor, Leer state, South Sudan.

Those, he says, include hundreds of incidences of rape and sexual assault, leading to many cases of psychological distress. He says there has been an upsurge in the forcible recruitment of child soldiers, with more than 19,000 children in both government and rebel armed groups.

UNICEF says South Sudanese children are in desperate need of every sort of humanitarian assistance. Unfortunately, it notes, aid workers are hampered by the inability to access insecure parts of the country and by a chronic shortage of money.

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