By Chondok Stephen Magei
The capital of South Sudan’s Unity State is swarming with children running away from hunger in their homes, making garbage dumping sites a very conducive source to fill their bellies.
Unity State, which was one of the regions most hit by crisis is facing a devastating crisis that has destroyed livelihoods including farms and livestock.
According to United Nations and other nongovernmental organisations working in the relief sector, South Sudan is facing an unprecedented hunger situation with 8 million people expected to face acute food insecurity this year.
In Unity State, communities fled the floods, going to high ground after 7 counties were submerged.
Food aid is hard to come by as agencies are cut off from the people in dire need.
Children are hard hit.
The number of children who have run off to the streets in the capital of Unity State, Bentiu have risen from 1500 in 2021 to 3500 this year, according to Women Vision South Sudan, an organisation that looks at the plight of women and children.
According to the Coordinator of Women Vision, Samuel Luny Kuol, the plights of children have been worsened by the floods as well as an economic crisis in South Sudan.
“I talked to the State Minister of Gender Child and Social Welfare about the increase of street children and to conduct awareness on those street areas to limit children from joining street life of begging food from restaurant owners,” Kuol told Juba Echo in an interview.
“It’s painful and if this continues, there will be no future children in the state.”
A child like Chuol Lual has been forced to even sell juice so as to survive and yet he is just 7 years old.
“I am selling this mixed foster with sugar to get money to improve my living standard and to pay my school development funds,” the child told Juba Echo.
The headteacher of Lich Primary School in Bentiu, Gatkuai Mawic Puok said children are flocking the streets because their parents can no longer provide them food, school uniforms and school development funds.
“To end this children’s street life, the State government should develop more police personnel around UNMISS wastes dumping site,” Puok said.
“If police are deployed around dumping sites and around the market, there will be less children in the markets to beg people.”
The State Minister of Gender Child and Social Welfare, Rose Nyaboth Toch, heeded to the advice of Puok.
Toch said said her ministry is aware of the rapid increase of children on the streets of Bentiu.
“Children are everywhere in the market begging money and food especially in Rubkona market, Bentiu IDP camp and Bentiu town and some have gone very far eating leftover food in flooded mixed waste,” Toch said.