Time is up to Save the Next Generation of South Sudan
Achol, 15, (left) and Mabior, 15, (right) in a side event at the United National General Assembly (UNGA) say time is up and that we don’t want to wait for too long to save the next generation of South Sudan.
23 September 2021 - Bor - South Sudan - Greetings from South Sudan ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to speak on behalf of Children in South Sudan.
My name is Achol
And I am Mabior.
The world’s newest country, South Sudan, is facing its worst ever hunger crisis in 10 years of nationhood. There are million people, including millions of children, on the brink of or in famine. The number of people in grave danger of starvation has risen compared to a decade ago.
Given the prevailing hunger situation in the country, Mabior, myself including other child consultants had an opportunity to explore children’s views, needs and coping strategies to the effect of hunger, Covid-19 and conflict in their communities. We held discussions and interviewed fellow children in Bor, Kapoeta, Maban, Akobo and Tonj East.
Ladies and gentlemen, during the consultation, children reported physical symptoms of severe hunger and malnutrition, including feeling weak, dizzy, nauseous, and slow. Many children also reported effects of hunger on their mental health, saying they felt frustrated, aggressive, unable to concentrate, which impacted their ability to learn at school, socialize with friends and communicate with their family, sometimes becoming violent. Some parents have left their children to find work in other cities.
Some boys engage in violent acts, like stealing, robbery, petty crime, and some girls are sexually exploited, as a means of generating income for food. Other ways of coping with hunger include playing games with other children and reading to distract from the feeling of hunger, sharing meals, reducing food intake and eating from wild trees.
World leaders, ladies and Gentlemen, allow me also share with you few quotes on the situation that were captured during the consultation with children below;
9-12 Boys Quotes
“When I am hungry, I become restless and start moving up and down looking for food”.
“I suffer more than adults when I have nothing to eat”
13-17 Boys Quotes
“I never get up on bed in the morning, i remain crying whenever we spend night without food to eat at our home”
“I sometimes loss love with parents since they are not providing needs like clothes to attend community functions”
One of the child “My sister works for someone at the market by cooking tea for sell and at the end the little my she gets is being shared by her and the owner of the tea place so sometimes we eat and sometimes we don’t have something” the other one says “My mother cook food in someone’s restaurant and at the she is given little money or carries food for us to eat”
“My father is blind and my mother is the one struggling to look for money at the end of the day the little money she gets is eaten as food causing more poverty”
“My uncle’s children are in the streets because of hunger, they beg in the market but I don’t know how to stop them since we have no food in the house”.
“Right now I am homeless and have no clothes because my parents wanted me to be married to a man I don’t while I am still young so I refuse and ran away, right now I stay in other people’s houses. Sometimes they deny me food and sometimes they give me food so my feeding is not stable”. Said a 12-year-old girl.
“I left our house because my mother died and my father wanted to give me out for marriage, so I ran away and right now I have no support so I work in people’s house so that I can eat”.
“My father is blind and my mother have mental disorder so my elder brother farms other people’s garden to provide food for us”.
“Wars, conflicts, hunger, floods, and now covid-19 are destroying our dreams but we have hope. However, we don’t want to wait for too long”.
Time is up to save the next generation from continuing to be refugees and not having a place to call home in their communities and country. We want to be educated but how can a child go to school and learn on an empty stomach? How can the body fight diseases if are weak from hunger? Are our country’s problem’s difficult to solve once and for all? Why do we have to suffer from the same problems year after year? Why us?
These are the silent thoughts of children in South Sudan who would like to know what the national, regional and world leaders are thinking about us to make South Sudan a better place for all its children. Can you please help us with the answers?
Thanks for listening to our voices and we are hopeful that, you will hear our appeal to protect our rights as children. God bless you, and God bless South Sudan.