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A quarter of war-torn South Sudan girls suicidal: report

South Sudan's conflict has displaced over 4 million people [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 May, 2018

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A new report says that a quarter of South Sudan's adolescent girls have suicidal feelings due to fear of abuse, rape or murder.

One in four girls in South Sudan has considered suicide as civil conflict has brought about widespread physical and sexual abuse, according to a new report by Plan International. 

Two-hundred-and-forty-nice adolescent girls were interviewed for the study over the last 12 months, saying they reported suicidal feelins due to fear of abuse, rape or murder. 

Seventy-five per cent said the conflict had a toll on their mental health, with one-third injured due to violence. 

"These girls have endured some of the most horrendous hardships imaginable," said George Otim, Plan International's country director in South Sudan.

"If we are to help give them some hope for the future, we must see an end to the conflict in South Sudan. We need to tailor support around gender and age so that adolescent girls feel safe from violence and can continue with their education".

The conflict, which has pit President Salva Kiir against his former deputy Riek Machar, has led to tens of thousands of deaths and forced over 4 million to flee their homes in the newly founded republic that split from Sudan in 2011. 

A peace deal signed in August 2015 didn't stop the fighting, and a cessation of hostilities agreement this past December was broken within hours.

The United Nations opposed a plan by South Sudan's government to move to elections if warring parties failed to reconcile differences at the peace talks which were scheduled to start May 17.

Protracted insecurity in the country has hampered food production and half of the population lacks reliable access to basic necessities. One in three people — or 4.5 million — have fled their homes as a result, 90 per cent of whom are women and children.

Aid workers say gender-based violence can lead to mental health problems, but they had not come across cases where girls were suicidal. 

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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