Plan Ireland has received €100,000 in emergency funds from Irish Aid to provide life-saving water and sanitation facilities to thousands who have fled the escalating violence in South Sudan.
The crisis has left an estimated 800,000 people displaced within the country and another 83,900 people seeking refuge in neighbouring states.
In a worrying development, there have been reports of the use of child soldiers as the fighting escalates, with one account citing children as young as 12 carrying guns.
Plan Ireland CEO, David Dalton said,
“The situation in South Sudan is reaching a tipping point as the numbers of people fleeing the conflict continue to swell daily. There is acute human suffering in the country with children and women bearing the brunt of the fighting.
The emergency funding provided by Irish Aid will help provide water and sanitation to thousands within South Sudan who have been forced to flee. Many of those who have had to leave their homes have no access to clean water meaning that disease and infection can spread. The money will allow Plan to provide proper sanitation and drinking water to counter this deadly risk.
In addition, reports emerging of the recruitment of children into the armed forces are extremely concerning. This practice is against international human rights laws, and unacceptable. Children are particularly vulnerable during conflict and must be protected from any activity that will have long term negative physical and psychological impact on them. We urge the actors in this conflict to desist from this practice.”
Clashes broke out on 15th December between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and others backing his former deputy Riek Machar. President Salva Kiir has accused Machar of attempting a coup.
Witnesses to the violence in South Sudan have described how targeted attacks against civilians on an ethnic basis have taken place in both government and opposition-controlled areas.
Plan has been operating in South Sudan since 2006, focusing on food security and nutrition, education, youth livelihoods, child protection and humanitarian support.