By Laura Kemp • 24 September 2021 • 14:47
Hunger forcing children in South Sudan into child marriage - Image Source: Twitter
Children in South Sudan said hunger was forcing more young people to drop out of school, putting girls at risk of early marriage and sexual exploitation, according to Save the Children research.
The child rights organisation asked 65 children aged nine-seventeen in five communities about how they were coping with COVID-19, hunger, and ongoing conflict. The consultations found many children reported feeling dizzy, and lethargic from a lack of food and unable to concentrate, affecting their learning, socialising, moods, and behaviour.
The children said to cope, some boys were engaging in violent acts, like stealing, robbery, petty crime, and some girls were sexually exploited as a means of generating income for food.
Other ways of coping with hunger included playing games with other children and reading to distract from the feeling of hunger, sharing meals, reducing food intake, and eating from wild trees.
South Sudan is facing its worst-ever hunger crisis at it marks ten years of independence, with at least 7.2 million people or 65 per cent of the population, on the brink of starvation with civil war, climate shocks, and high food prices fueling the situation. Some 1.4 million children are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition this year, the highest figure since 2013.
Janti Soeripto, Save the Children President and CEO, said it was important that children affected by armed conflict did not remain invisible in the post-COVID recovery, and children’s rights were respected and need addressing.
“We need to pay careful attention to their recommendations and ensure we take swift action to better protect children and education systems from conflict and the climate crisis,” Soeripto said.
“Schools protect children from the physical dangers around them such as child recruitment or child, early and forced marriage.”
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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