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South Sudan’s ongoing civil war has displaced more than 2 million children so far, UN agencies have warned.
More than a million children are internally displaced in the nation, while a similar number has been forced out of the country, living as refugees in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and the DR Congo.
“The horrifying fat that nearly one in five children in South Sudan has been forced to flee their home illustrates how devastating this conflict has been for the country’s most vulnerable,” said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF’s Regional Director (Eastern and Southern Africa).
“The future of a generation is truly on the brink,” she added.
Among these child refugees, more than 75,000 “are either unaccompanied or separated from their families.”
The woes afflicted on these refugees are being further compounded by the change in season, as heavy rains are pouring out across much of the region, and the lack of proper shelter for them leaves them susceptible to illnesses.
“That refugee children are becoming the defining face of this emergency is incredibly troubling,” said Valentin Tapsoba, UNHCR’s African Bureau Director.
Of the 1.8 million South Sudanese refugees, 62% are children.
Lost Boys once again?
The current number of unaccompanied children, 75,000, is nearly four times as much as the number of unaccompanied children displaced by the Sudanese civil war that started in the 80s, when South Sudan was still a part of Sudan.
The Sudanese Civil War forced many to flee their homes, including 20,000 boys, mostly 6 or 7 years old, who somehow made the harrowing journeys into refugee camps in neighboring nations.
Hunger, disease, wild animals, and sporadic attacks afflicted them over the course of their sojourn, which took them to Ethiopia before forcing them to head into Kenya, as Ethiopia had become embroiled in its own war.
Only 10,000 boys made it to Kenya.
The ongoing South Sudan Civil War now threatens to create even more Lost Boys.