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.
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.