The United Nations children’s agency is appealing for $180 million to meet the humanitarian needs of more than 800,000 women and children in South Sudan.
A top UNICEF official in South Sudan said the signing of a revitalized peace deal in September 2018 laid the groundwork for improved conditions in the country, but that more than 4.4 million children alone still need assistance.
Andrea Suley, acting UNICEF representative in South Sudan, said most of the money will be used to provide food aid.
“The nutrition sector is the sector that requires the most funding in 2019, literally over $50 million. That speaks to the insecurity around food for the population of South Sudan,” Suley told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus program. Suley said she doesn’t anticipate the situation greatly improving this year.
UNICEF plans to spend $45 million to fund water, sanitation and hygiene projects in 2019.
“In South Sudan, only 50 percent of the population have access to safe drinking water. This is the number that puts children and women and all the population at risk with regard to disease and health in general,” Suley told VOA.
Peace deals aimed at a half-decade of fighting in South Sudan have repeatedly fallen apart due to violations by both government and rebel forces.
Suley said while she hopes all sides adhere to the latest agreement this time, many South Sudanese are still suffering.
She said now that the country is in the dry season, the main constraint is insecurity.
“And that is why Equatoria [state] still remains the challenge for us. Bagari [state] has been an entrenched challenge for access for quite some time. However, there have been a lot of positive signs for the past month that the access for humanitarian aid is going into Bagari.”
UNICEF’s appeal comes one month after the agency said the world is failing to protect children living in conflict zones around the world, with catastrophic consequences.