South Sudan, the world’s youngest country and a long-standing hub of civil war is slowly getting back on its feet. Conflicts still arise and there is plenty of national work to be done. While the opposition parties are finally negotiating and signing peace deals, several other human rights issues continue to worsen due to the combat season.
One lawmaker, hailing from Ruweng, one of the 32 states in South Sudan, has been voicing his concerns on the growing number of street children. These children don’t have guardians and roam around in a menacing environment. The statistics are staggering and have pushed the issue up to a humanitarian crisis. Members of the legislative assembly have expressed growing fears over the vulnerability of these children. They can easily turn into something else if not supervised.
South Sudan witnessed a renewed conflict in 2016, which killed thousands and put a heavy strain on the economy. The ensuing inflation triggered a countrywide hunger crisis that is still being recovered from. According to UNICEF, almost 70% of the resultant refuges are children who are either displaced or have sought haven in neighboring countries. 72% of children are out of school while almost 4.2 million minors need help in the country.
The UN recorded around 19,000 children being forcefully recruited as war soldiers by armed groups in the wake of the civil war. The clashes between the loyalists of the President Salva Kiir and those of Former Vice-president Riek Machar have killed thousands in ethnic violence.
Nicholas Kerandi, food security expert from FAO claimed that many children ending up taking care of their younger siblings while the men have gone out to fight. They often have to work in destitute conditions like brick-making sites, earning only a dollar a day.
The number of street children is very likely to rise if relevant authorities don’t take action to provide shelter, employment, and education. Therefore, state legislators in South Sudan have also urged the NGOs to take action.