“No time must be lost in protecting the children of South Sudan from being used and abused in, for and by armed conflict. They are not only the future of South Sudan, but also its present.” – Virginia Gamba, SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict
This past December marked six years since civil war broke out in South Sudan. Imagine that. Think about a six-year-old child. Imagine them never having experienced a single day of peace.
Nearly 400,000 lives have been claimed by this war, half lost through violence and the other half from disease, hunger, and other causes linked to the conflict. Over 4.5 million people have been violently drive from their homes, 2.5 million of whom are now living in refugee camps in neighboring countries.
But perhaps the worst atrocities of all, is the use and abuse of children in this war. Over 19,000 children have been abducted and recruited, and made to kill, rape, and often attack their only families.
Virgina Gamba, the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, is calling on us to act, now. “It is crucial that each and every boy and girl released, benefits from reintegration programs and the international community must take a strong step and support these children and their communities in a sustainable and comprehensive manner.”
CMMB has been one of UNICEF’s key partners in supporting reintegration programs, including family tracing to reunite former child soldiers with their families, following-up with children once they are back in communities, and leading programming in Child Friendly Spaces – safe spaces set up in emergency settings to restore a sense of normality and continuity to children whose lives have been disrupted by conflict or disaster.