South Sudan government shuts down all schools due to an extreme heat wave

South Sudan's government has announced the closure of all schools beginning on Monday as the nation braces for a two-week period of extreme heat.

The decision comes in anticipation of temperatures soaring to 45 oC (113 oF), prompting the health and education ministries to issue a joint statement late Saturday.

In their advisory, the ministries urged parents to keep their children indoors during this period for their safety. Additionally, they cautioned that any school found operating during this time would face consequences, including the withdrawal of its registration. However, they did not specify the duration of the school closures.

The ministries assured the public that they would closely monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary. This move comes amid concerns over the health and well-being of students and educators in the face of such extreme weather conditions.

Residents, like Peter Garang from the capital city of Juba, have expressed support for the government's decision. Garang emphasized the need for schools to have access to electricity, enabling the installation of air conditioning units to mitigate the effects of the heat.

South Sudan, being one of the world's youngest nations, is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. While heatwaves are not uncommon, temperatures rarely exceed 40 oC. The country has also been grappling with civil conflict, droughts, and floods, exacerbating living conditions for its population.

The humanitarian situation in South Sudan remains dire, as highlighted by the latest country brief from the World Food Program. Factors contributing to the crisis include ongoing violence, economic instability, climate change, and an influx of refugees from neighboring Sudan. In January 2024 alone, approximately 818,000 vulnerable individuals received food assistance and cash-based transfers.

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