February 28 2014

CEO urges South Sudan parties to protect rights of children

28.02.2014 -- Amid UN reports of shocking attacks in the South Sudan city of Malakal, and news that children, mothers, and other co-workers from the SOS Children’s Village located there had fled to a UN compound, SOS Children’s Villages on Friday reminded all parties to the conflict of their obligation under international human rights law to protect the rights of children.

SOS Children’s Villages CEO Richard Pichler said: “Violence and disorder resulting from the armed conflict has made it impossible for SOS Children’s Villages to continue operating as usual in South Sudan. Most of the children who were at Malakal village have taken refuge in the UN mission compound. We understand that at least 35 children who were living at our Children’s Village, together with at least one youth leader, have fled Malakal across the river Nile. We are doing everything we can, including leveraging assets across the SOS Children’s Villages organisation, to get the children under our care out of Malakal and to ensure the safety of children who have fled.”
He added: “We request and appeal to all parties to the conflict to respect their obligation under international human rights law to protect the lives and well-being of children. Children across South Sudan are at risk of experiencing the long-term effects of trauma from the violence and cruelty they have experienced over recent weeks. We in the international community must do everything we can to provide safe havens for children so that they can experience the feeling of security to which they are entitled and which is essential for the long term health of the community.”
The UN humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan said on Wednesday through Twitter that “Malakal looks and feels deserted”. He said: “Besides the occasional armed man wandering through town, there are corpses, flies and vultures to be seen.” Speaking of the Malakal Teaching Hospital, he wrote: “Nothing left except the deceased and a loyal dog protecting the remains of his owner.”