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Renewed child-soldier recruitment drive feared in South Sudan

17 April 2015

MELANY MARKHAM/WORLD VISION

Rations: seven-tear-old twins Chan and Ngor pictured last year after a breakfast of porridge made by their mother from maize distributed by World Vision as part of a monthly ration. Before the civil war, the twins, their parents and five siblings lived in Malakal 

Rations: seven-tear-old twins Chan and Ngor pictured last year after a breakfast of porridge made by their mother from maize distributed by Wo...

RELIEF workers helping refugees caught in the South Sudan civil war fear a new wave of child-soldier recruitment.

In the surge of violence this month, more than 4500 civilians fled from their homes to the UN Protection of Civilians camp in Malakal, the capital of the country's oil-rich Upper Nile state. Hundreds more are believed to be hiding in the countryside. Refugees have been arriving at the rate of roughly 600 every day, mostly women, children, and the elderly.

The South Sudan national director of the Christian aid agency World Vision, Perry Mansfield, said: "A major concern is the safety of the children here. During the conflict in 2013, we heard reports that children were recruited from Malakal; so we need to do all we can to make sure that they are safe.

"Since December last year, World Vision has been calling on donors to fully fund child protection and education. Safety is just as important as physical needs."

In a bid to protect children from recruitment by armed groups, World Vision is establishing child-friendly spaces for those who have just arrived in the camp. The protection activities were due to start this week. World Vision, with other agencies, has already distributed essential household items, including mosquito nets, soap, jerrycans, blankets, sleeping mats, and cooking utensils. Their most urgent needs remain shelter, water, sanitation, food, and protection.

Since the start of the current conflict in South Sudan, in December 2013, 1.5 million people have been displaced by violence. World Vision has reached more than 600,000 of them with emergency aid.

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