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,
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