Kiwi fights for South Sudan's children

Child soldiers in South Sudan (Getty)
Child soldiers in South Sudan (Getty)

A Kiwi who's recently back home after aiding humanitarian efforts in South Sudan is holding onto hope the young nation can be saved.

The central African country recently marked its fifth birthday, but there were no celebrations. Civil war has forced more than 1.6 million people from their homes, and nearly half the country's 11 million people aren't getting enough to eat.

Dwain Hindriksen told Paul Henry on Wednesday it's a complex conflict that can't be narrowed down to Christians vs Muslims, as is often reported. He says some of the rivalries go back to colonial days.

"There's groups that have their own interests. There's tribal conflict. Then there's also conflict between opposition groups. [It's about] power."

The past week has seen around 40,000 more people forced to flee fighting in the capital of Juba. Mr Hindriksen isn't usually based in South Sudan, but flew in to help out those who are.

"I was deployed there to provide surge capacity when things were getting pretty tough. There's local teams on the ground that do a fantastic job - they live day in, day out, this sort of work, and they do an incredible job but sometimes they get absolutely stretched."

Mr Hindriksen has a military background, which he says gives him a "cool head" when it comes to working in warzones. While there's a ceasefire in place at the moment, it's still one of the world's most dangerous countries to work in.

"You've got to weigh up the risks, look at whether or not the risks are directed towards humanitarian workers specifically, is there a risk of getting caught up in the crossfire of the wider conflict, and just make a call."

He hopes the ceasefire lasts, for the sake of the young country's future.

"When you look at what's happening in South Sudan, and what's happening to the children - who are the future of South Sudan - you can't help but care."

Find out more about the crisis in South Sudan, and how you can help, on World Vision's website.