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South Sudan shutters all schools as it prepares for an extreme heat wave

Children read a pamphlet about the dangers of landmines, in Moli village, Eastern Equatoria state, in South Sudan   -  
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Sam Mednick/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

South Sudan

South Sudan's government is closing down all schools starting Monday as the country prepares for a wave of extreme heat expected to last two weeks.

The health and education ministries advised parents to keep all children indoors as temperatures are expected to soar to 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit), in a statement late Saturday,

They warned that any school found open during that time would have its registration withdrawn, but didn't specify how long the schools would remain shuttered.

The ministries said they “will continue to monitor the situation and inform the public accordingly.”

Peter Garang, a resident who lives in the capital, Juba, welcomed the decision. He said that “schools should be connected to the electricity grid" to enable the installation of air conditioners.

South Sudan, one of the world’s youngest nations, is particularly vulnerable to climate change with heatwaves common but rarely exceeding 40C. Civil conflict has plagued the east African country which also suffered from drought and flooding, making living conditions difficult for residents.

The World Food Program in its latest country brief said South Sudan “continues to face a dire humanitarian crisis” due to violence, economic instability, climate change and an influx of people fleeing the conflict in neighboring Sudan. It also stated that 818,000 vulnerable people were given food and cash-based transfers in January 2024.

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