22 January 2014

South Sudan: Caring for children in Malakal

The month-long conflict has displaced half a million people across South Sudan. SOS Children’s Villages is there in the turbulent town of Malakal, doing everything possible to assist affected families and children who are in desperate need of food, water, shelter...and a place to call home.


Children stand inside the doorway to their home - CV Malakal
 © Conor Ashleigh
22/01/14 – The bullet holes in the walls of the SOS Children’s Village in Malakal are a stark reminder of a terrifying ordeal in 2011 when soldiers opened fire within the compound. Home to 100 children and 50 young people, the village – located in the northeast of the country – is once again surrounded by violent conflict.
 
Mass killings, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, sexual violence and the use of child soldiers across the country has been condemned by the UN. The UN Mission in South Sudan is protecting nearly 60,000 civilians at 10 bases across the country.
 
In the town of Malakal – where fighting between rebel and government forces is intense – the acute shortage of food, water and shelter now threatens the lives over 12,000 people. Local shops are closed and roads are dangerous, so SOS Children’s Villages has mounted an emergency relief operation to airlift essential supplies into the area.
 
So far, children and families from the SOS Children’s Village in Malakal are safe. One youth coordinator was caught in crossfire outside the village. He was treated in hospital, was discharged, and is now recuperating.
 
“The situation in South Sudan is of acute concern to us,” said Richard Pichler, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages. “The SOS Children’s Village in Malakal continues to provide safe haven for children under our care, but the situation across the country is deteriorating. We urge the international community to increase efforts to ensure that safe havens are established where children can be cared for, grow and develop.”