SOUTH SU­DAN’S CON­FLICT DRIVE GIRLS TO SUI­CIDE

The East African - - NEWS - By NITA BHALLA Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion

One in four ado­les­cent girls in South Su­dan has con­sid­ered killing her­self, a re­port by the chil­dren’s char­ity Plan In­ter­na­tional has said.

ONE IN FOUR ado­les­cent girls in South Su­dan has con­sid­ered killing her­self, trau­ma­tised by phys­i­cal and sex­ual vi­o­lence brought on by the coun­try’s civil con­flict, a re­port by the chil­dren’s char­ity Plan In­ter­na­tional has said.

The sur­vey of 249 girls aged 10 to 19 across South Su­dan said 25 per cent re­ported they had sui­ci­dal feel­ings in the past 12 months, largely due to the fear of be­ing raped, beaten, kid­napped or killed.

Seventy-five per cent of girls said the con­flict had neg­a­tively af­fected their state of mind, one-third had been in­jured in the vi­o­lence, and 13 per cent had been ab­ducted, plung­ing some into the depths of de­spair, said the re­port.

“These girls have en­dured some of the most hor­ren­dous hard­ships imag­in­able,” Ge­orge Otim, Plan In­ter­na­tional’s coun­try di­rec­tor in South Su­dan, said in a state­ment.

“If we are to give them some hope for the future, we must see an end to the con­flict in South Su­dan. We need to tai­lor sup­port around gen­der and age so that ado­les­cent girls feel safe from vi­o­lence and can con­tinue with their ed­u­ca­tion.”

South Su­dan, which split from Su­dan in 2011, is be­ing rav­aged by a civil war sparked by ri­valry be­tween Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir and his for­mer deputy Dr Riek Machar.

The world’s youngest na­tion is now in its fifth year of con­flict, and the vi­o­lence has led to the deaths of tens of thou­sands of peo­ple.

Pro­tracted in­se­cu­rity has also ham­pered food pro­duc­tion and dis­rupted mar­kets, lead­ing to hy­per­in­fla­tion and spark­ing a food cri­sis.

Al­most half of South Su­dan’s pop­u­la­tion lacks re­li­able ac­cess to food, says the Famine Early Warn­ing Sys­tems Net­work.

As a re­sult, 4.5 mil­lion South Su­danese have fled their homes, al­most 90 per cent of them women and chil­dren. Around 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple have taken refuge in Uganda, Kenya, Su­dan, Ethiopia, the DR Congo and the Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic.

A fur­ther two mil­lion are dis­placed in­side the coun­try.

Pic­ture: AFP

Refugees flee from South Su­dan into Uganda’s Koboko District.

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