"Hopes and dreams" fade for South Sudan's children

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A young girl walks along the edge of a drainage chanel in in the in Protection of Civilian (POC) camp in the evening light in Bentiu, South Sudan. Photo: UNICEF/UN043961/Holt

"The hopes and dreams" of South Sudan's children have failed to materialize as the world's youngest nation prepares to mark its sixth anniversary on Sunday.

That's the verdict of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) which said on the eve of the anniversary, that children "continue to bear the brunt of conflict and collapsing essential services."

More details from Matt Wells.

Since rivalries at the top of South Sudan's government erupted into armed conflict in December 2013, UNICEF estimates that at least 2,500 children have been killed or injured, including more than 250 cases of rape or sexual assault reported.

Around 2.2 million children are not in school, which represents the highest proportion of any country in the world.

More than a third of all schools have been attacked by armed groups, said UNICEF.

Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF's Representative in South Sudan, said that more than two million children had been forced to flee their homes during the months of brutal fighting, which has caused a famine in some areas of the devastated country.

Mr Mdoe said millions of children were "suffering unthinkable hardships and setbacks in their education, nutrition, health and their rights".

So far this year, UNICEF and partners have provided aid to more than 293,000 children under-five, to treat malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, as well as  treating more than 5,000 cases of cholera.

They have treated more than 80,000 acutely malnourished children and given 184,000 access to education.

Mr Mdoe said that South Sudan's children had no cause to celebrate independence day, adding that what they most urgently needed, was peace.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'12"

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