The United Nations warned today that 30,000 people are “facing starvation and death” in war-torn South Sudan. The UN World Food Programme, UNICEF and the Food and Agriculture Organization are demanding immediate access to these starving war victims, who are in Unity State.
The war in South Sudan, between the government and opposition groups, has caused extreme hunger. Farming in conflict areas cannot take place. What little food is available has become high-priced.
Nearly four million people are living with severe food shortages and on the brink of famine. Many displaced families report eating only one meal a day, consisting of fish and water lilies.
The violence has blocked humanitarian aid from reaching civilians, leaving children especially vulnerable to deadly malnutrition. UNICEF’s South Sudan representative, Jonathan Veitch, warns, “Since fighting broke out nearly two years ago, children have been plagued by conflict, disease, fear and hunger. Their families have been extraordinary in trying to sustain them, but have now exhausted all coping mechanisms. Agencies can support, but only if we have unrestricted access. If we do not, many children may die.”
As long as the violence persists, hunger will only continue to escalate. War means hunger. Oxfam’s Zlatko Gegic says, “civilians are fleeing their homes and making the treacherous journey to safer locations, only to be faced with starvation as aid organizations are blocked due to fighting. Many children have arrived alone, their mothers killed in the fighting or during the journey, with nothing but the clothes on their backs, surviving on plant roots and whatever else they can forage.”
Malnutrition causes lasting physical and mental damage in children, so it’s urgent the food reaches them quickly. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is the lead hunger relief organization in South Sudan. Along with UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services and others WFP conducts emergency missions to relieve the suffering, provided they have access.
WFP depends on voluntary donations and this must be kept up to provide the food aid. The United States Food for Peace program is the single largest donor to WFP, and Congress has to boost its funding.
But a lasting peace deal between the warring parties has to take place for the humanitarian crisis to ultimately end. The alternative is famine for South Sudan.
Most merciful God of all creation, I come to Your throne of grace this morning with praise and thanks for all the rich blessings you have bestowed so freely upon all your children. I worship You and offer unending thanksgiving for Your love, Your justice and Your sustaining mercy.
I ask for special mercy this day for those crushed by poverty and those oppressed by forces beyond their control. I pray that those in the shadow of starvation may see the light of your presence in the form of life-sustaining food and that the hungry everywhere might be fed until they are filled.
Open our hearts, Lord, that we may see through Your eyes. Help us to love our brothers and sisters even as You love us. And let Your love, Your mercy and Your grace flow through us as we strive to meet the need of the least of these among us. In a world so richly blessed there are none that should lack daily bread. My prayer is that You would empower us to do whatever needs to be done to see that Your gifts are shared with all our family.
Allow me Lord to be a true ambassador of reconciliation. Grant me the strength to be a real peacemaker. And may my life be a clear reflection of Your love and compassion in every situation. Amen
This piece by William Lambers is the latest story on the unfolding famine threat in South Sudan. Stop Hunger Now is urging all it’s friends and supporters to help raise awareness of this unfolding tragedy, and to support the relief efforts though the charity of your choice. Three million of our family at risk of starvation is simply not acceptable.
Oxfam warns about South Sudan crisis
The war between the government and opposition forces has led to major food shortages. The already impoverished nation has been plunged deeper into despair.
Families are becoming increasingly desperate. Without a peace deal, things are likely to get worse. Emma Drew, Head of Humanitarian Programs for Oxfam in South Sudan, says,
What we’re seeing now is families that have spent the past year and a half living on the edge – many have exhausted their food stocks, been displaced from their homes, missed opportunities to plant and farm, and now the economy is showing the strain of a year and a half of conflict.”
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has been leading the hunger response. The relief mission is one of the most dangerous in the world with the ongoing violence and lack of security. WFP reports three of its aid workers in South Sudan are missing. The three staff members were traveling to a food distribution on April 1st, but WFP has not been able to contact them since.
WFP has to move food around a conflict-torn country with poor roads. Airlifts are used to bring food to some areas. This is difficult and costly. The mission for South Sudan is already low on funding.
Oxfam is urging governments to step up funding for South Sudan. Most of all a peace deal must be achieved. The violence must stop and humanitarian workers must be allowed safe access. Until this happens, hunger will continue to escalate, leaving South Sudan at risk of famine.
Millions in South Sudan are at risk. This article reprinted here from the Gurtong Trust tells the story. Stop Hunger Now continues it’s efforts in the village of Old Fangak in Jonglei State.
South Sudan Families Being Pushed To The Brink
Skyrocketing inflation, conflict and collapsed markets are pushing people in South Sudan to breaking point as the political deadlock enters its 16th month and families face a second lean season since fighting began, international agency Oxfam warned on Tuesday in a statement.
22 April 2015
By Jacob Achiek
JUBA, April 22, 2015 [Gurtong] – “What we are seeing now is families that have spent the past year and a half living on the edge many have exhausted their food stocks, been displaced from their homes, missed opportunities to plant and farm, and now the economy is showing the strain of a year and a half of conflict,” said Emma Drew, Head of Humanitarian Programmes for Oxfam in South Sudan.
Areas affected by the conflict are seeing drastic increases in food prices. In February, cereal prices were estimated to have shot up by 300% in Unity, Upper Nile, and Jonglei states.
The South Sudanese pound is also depreciating rapidly – while the official rate remains at 3.2 pounds to the US dollar, parallel market rates are as high as 7 pounds to the dollar which is fluctuating on a regular basis. This is increasing the cost of regional food imports and putting pressure on already stretched household budgets.
“Many people can no longer afford to buy food and other basic essentials; trade in markets has been disrupted, or in many instances, markets have been damaged or destroyed altogether,” said Ms. Drew.
Already, 2.5 million people are facing severe levels of hunger. By June, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) predicts that more than a million people will join them.
“As the rains set in, reaching people who are desperately in need of aid will become more and more difficult. It’s vital that aid reaches people not just in the camps on UN bases but the millions in need spread out across the country, especially in conflict affected states,” Ms. Drew said.
“It’s hard to describe just how difficult it is to provide humanitarian assistance here. Insecurity due to protracted fighting and poor roads mean that in many places agencies have to fly absolutely everything in, often to airstrips that are easily bogged down by mud and rain – so getting food and essential items in before the rains start is an urgent priority.”
Flexible funding remains key, especially in light of the need to adapt to the changing humanitarian context. In addition to the urgent food aid that will be needed to save lives, donors should also support programmes that develop people’s skills and resilience, and that build on or re-establish markets wherever possible.
While the UN appeal for aid in South Sudan has been over half funded, donors must swiftly deliver on the existing commitments. Regional and international governments should use their influence on the government of South Sudan and the opposition to ensure communities can access aid where they are.
“Aid is important and lifesaving but ultimately what people need most is an end to the conflict. A real, lasting peace that delivers genuine security and stability will require far more than a power sharing deal between political and military elites,” added Ms. Drew.
Regional leaders and the international community have an important role in helping communities and the country’s leaders to achieve a lasting peace. Complacency is not an option.
Allowing children to die from hunger is child abuse. It’s murder, pure and simple.
Let’s not kid ourselves. There’s enough food for everyone in the world. Yet our greed, over-consumption, and wastefulness condemns thousands of children to slowly suffer and die every day from hunger and malnutrition.
The murder of millions of children is still murder. Make no mistake. It’s child abuse on a global scale, and it is still a crime.
Don’t bother trying on the glove. It fits us all.
Feel what it’s like to truly starve, and I guarantee that you’ll forever think twice before wasting food. – Criss Jami in Killosophy
I do not know what it feels like to starve. But I have been far too close to far too many who do know.
Some sights can never be forgotten. Some images can never be erased. The unspeakable anguish in a mother’e eyes as she watches life slip away from her starving child sears itself into memory for a lifetime.
That’s why wasting food is totally repugnant to me. No, I have never felt what it is like to starve. But I never see food wasted without it tearing at me.
Every mouthful of food is a gift. Wasting food is the height of arrogance. I despise it. It is a ugly demonstration of privilege and lack of community.
I pray for forgiveness every time I have to throw out something from my refrigerator. It doesn’t feed the hungry. I know that. But it does help me be more mindful. It reminds me that I need to live more responsibly and that millions of my family would love to have the food I am wasting.
One-third to one-half of humanity are said to go to bed hungry every night. In the Old Stone Age the fraction must have been much smaller. This is the era of hunger unprecedented. Now, in the time of the greatest technical power, is starvation an institution. Reverse another venerable formula: the amount of hunger increases relatively and absolutely with the evolution of culture.
― Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics,
The number of hungry people is actually decreasing. It’s now far less than half and much closer to a third. That’s good news.
But, looking beyond the numbers, what Sahlins is saying is still right, Hunger has become an institution. Allowing 25,000 or so of our human family to suffer and die daily from hunger is the status quo.
What kind of a perverted set of values allows individuals to starve in a world of plenty. That’s a warped evolution; more properly, a de-evolution.
Working together we can end the scourge of hunger forever. No one has to die from lack of food. All we have to do is to live up to the moral values we claim. If we don’t, the legacy we leave our children and grandchildren will be uglier then than it is now, a valueless society of self-absorbed greed.
He looked at the piles of food again, and it was like he was seeing it with new eyes. “This is wrong”, he thought, “Letting food rot while people die of hunger. It’s evil.”….
He breathed in the too-sweet smell of rotting food, “I can stop this evil.
This passage from Margaret Haddix’s book, Among the Enemy, brings back all too vivid memories of the piles of rotting potatoes that were the catalyst for the the Society of Saint Andrew’s “Potato Project.” Once you smell 50-60,000 pounds of decomposing potatoes…well, it’s something that is hard to forget. Let’s just say it sticks with you.
I was privileged to live on Virginia’s Eastern Shore for two years while I was the pastor of the three rural United Methodist Churches that composed the Oak Hall Charge. It was a great two years. My son started first grade there, and one day when he got off the bus he excitedly told me about the enormous piles of potatoes he had seen in the woods during his bus ride home from school. A few days later, as I was out visiting church members I passed by the site and saw the rotting potatoes for myself.
It was actually almost four years later that those tons of rotting spuds manifested themselves into the beginnings of the Potato Project, yet the power of those rotting potatoes remains as strong for me today as it did over 35 years ago. The too-sweet smell of rotting food is an evil that is far too real in a world of hunger and malnutrition.
Reports now show that almost 40% of food grown for human consumption is wasted in the United States. That’s around $165,000,000,000 ($165 BILLION) worth food being wasted every year. “It’s evil…” and we can stop it.
The Society of Saint Andrew’s Potato Project and it’s Gleaning Network are perfect examples of how to help. Since these programs began they have kept billions of servings of nutritious produce from being wasted, and have made sure that produce has reached the plates of the poor and hungry here in the United States.
Working together we can end hunger in our lifetime. Getting rid of the too-sweet smell of rotting food is a good place to start.