UNICEF: Southern Sudan needs focus on children’s issues

29 Mar 2011

UNICEF: Southern Sudan needs focus on children’s issues

26 March 2011 - The deputy head of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) urged Southern Sudan to prioritize issues such as birth registration and immunization and to invest in programmes to ensure the progress and well-being of young people.
"The transitional period for Southern Sudan (scheduled to become an independent nation in July 2011) provides a unique opportunity to put children at the centre of policy and decision making and to build on the gains made," Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson said on Saturday in Juba at the end of a four-day visit to the region.

Decades of Sudan's civil war, ended by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, have devastated the infrastructure in Southern Sudan, according to UNICEF. Thousands of children have been left without access to schools, basic health care and clean water.

In addition, one out of every seven children in Southern Sudan dies before his or her fifth birthday; only about 10 per cent of children are fully vaccinated; and less than 50 per cent of all children receive five years of primary education.

"We need to confront the current glaring realities of deprivation," said Ms. Johnson. "Now is the time to act to deliver on our commitments for the children of Southern Sudan. The key for their future lies with us."

During her visit, which also included stops in Darfur and Abyei, Ms.
Johnson met with the President of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir and other senior officials, and visited children's programmes in Unity State.

While highlighting the gains that have been made – such as increasing
school enrolment and developing laws to protect the rights of children – she stressed the need for greater investment in social services, infrastructure and human resources to ensure progress for the children of Southern Sudan.