Children Call For Peace On World Children’s Day

13 year old Cecilia Aweil in Primary two at Gumbo Basic School is determined to pursue her education. But her greatest fear is the conflict in the country which has led to the economic crisis and poverty to many South Sudanese.

Children Call For Peace On World Children’s Day
Children carrying placards for the " Keep children grow up in families' campaign by SOS. [Gurtong photo/ Jale Richard]

By Jale Richard

JUBA, 21 November 2017 [Gurtong]-
On World Children’s Day, Cecilia joined some of her friends to appealed to the leaders of the country to stop fighting so that children will grow up in families and continue with their education.

“I want the country to be in peace, let people not fight each other so that people get a chance to get food and remain in school,” she said. “I pray for the war to stop so that I can complete my studies and grow with my family,” she added.

Cecilia also urged parents to continue supporting their children by paying their school fees and providing food at home so that they do not run away to the streets.

“Let them provide food, not beat their children. My mother is treating me well, she is not beating me and she gives me food,” she said.

SOS children’s Villages estimates that 220 million children, 1 in 10 of the world’s two billion children, grow up without the loving care of a parent or stand at risk of losing it. Given the severe consequences of inadequate care for the development of children, the organisation recommends increased investment in supporting family care for children in vulnerable circumstances.

The National Director for SOS children’s Village, Wani Richard Clement in an interview with Gurtong said millions of children end up in poverty, become involved in crime or experience unemployment because no one cares for them or believes in their potential.

The organization launched a campaign dubbed “No Child Should Grow Up Alone,” to create awareness in the community about the importance of children growing up in families.
In South Sudan, according to Wani, the number of homeless children is growing because of the conflict, poverty, and family separation.

He said the organisation has learned from experience that it is possible to create a ‘care effect’.

“If we provide care for today’s children in vulnerable circumstances, giving them the foundation they need for learning and developing life skills, we stand a better chance of meeting the un-endorsed sustainable development goals and building a better future for the world,” he said.
Wani said according to experts, the care effect shows that children who do not receive the love and care they need struggle to achieve their potential.

“They do less well at school, and have trouble focusing and developing social skills. Later in life, they are also more prone to depression and substance abuse, leading to higher rates of attempted suicide. They do not develop the resilience to cope with inevitable adversity,” Wani explained.

“Without the loving care of a parent or other adult caregiver, children are less likely to develop the skills they need to become contributing members of the society,” Wani said.

He said in order to reduce the number of street children; there is need for more civic education as well as advocating for the government to create more centers where homeless children can be taken care of.

SOS village in South Sudan suffered the impacts of the conflict twice. In 2014, its village in Malakal was destroyed completely and it relocated its base to Juba where in July 2016, the village was destroyed again due to fighting.

“The fighting should stop to allow children grow up in families and continue with education,” Wani said.

For Cecilia, if the war does not stop, many children will run to the streets because their parents would be killed.

“Some of my friends have lost their parents and now they do not have homes. If the war continues, many children will be orphans and they will run to the streets and rob people at night,” she said.

 Despite global progress, 1 in 12 children worldwide live in countries where their prospects today are worse than those of their parents, according to a UNICEF analysis conducted for world children’s day.

According to the analysis, 180 million children live in 37 countries where they are more likely to live in extreme poverty, be out of school, or be killed by violent death.

The 37 countries in which prospects for children are declining in at least one key respect are: Benin, Bolivia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Côte D'ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guatemala, Guyana, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan, Iraq, Kiribati, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Paraguay, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tonga, United republic of Tanzania, Ukraine, Vanuatu. Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe, according to the UNICEF report.

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