South Sudan to Close Schools as Temperatures Soar Amidst Heatwave

In response to an expected rise in temperatures to an exceptional 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), South Sudan announced on Saturday that it would close schools and urge children to avoid outdoor activities.

The East African country, already vulnerable to climate change, is experiencing increasingly common heatwaves, although temperatures typically do not exceed 40C. However, the forecasted heatwave, expected to last at least two weeks, has prompted the government to take precautionary measures.

The ministries of education, health, and environment issued a joint statement warning of the health hazards posed by temperatures ranging from 41C to 45C. They mentioned reported cases of deaths related to excessive heat but did not provide further details.

As a result, all schools will be closed starting March 18 to protect students from the serious health risks associated with the heatwave. Parents are advised to prevent their children from playing outdoors, especially young children who are more susceptible to heatstroke.

South Sudan, already grappling with challenges such as violence, economic instability, and persistent natural disasters, is further burdened by recurring heatwaves. Scientists attribute these extreme weather events to global warming, warning that they will become more frequent, prolonged, and intense.

Despite having significant oil reserves, South Sudan remains one of the poorest countries globally. Nearly half of its existence as an independent nation has been marred by conflict, famine, economic collapse, and communal violence.

According to the UN, a staggering 80 percent of South Sudan’s estimated 11 million population will require humanitarian assistance in 2024. While a power-sharing peace agreement was signed in 2018, its implementation has been hindered by ongoing disputes, exacerbating the country’s challenges.

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