More than one million children have been forced to leave the country while another one million are internally displaced, according to the UN.
“No refugee crisis today worries me more than South Sudan,” Valentin Tapsoba, the Africa chief at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said in a statement on Monday.
About three in every four children in South Sudan do not go to school, according to the UN. More than 1,000 children have also been killed in the ongoing civil war in the country, also according to the world body.
Civil war and famine in South Sudan have created Africa’s biggest refugee crisis in over a decade.
The war started three years ago when President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Rick Machar. Machar went on to lead rebel forces fighting Kiir. The civil war continues to this day and has divided the country along ethnic lines in the country of some 12 million people.
In early December last year, UN experts reported that “ethnic cleansing” was being carried out in several parts of South Sudan. Adama Dieng, the UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, had already warned of “a strong risk of violence escalating along ethnic lines, with the potential for genocide.”
To escape violence, many South Sudanese people have sought refuge in neighboring Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia. These host countries are themselves struggling to provide enough food and resources for their own people.