Famine sweeps two regions in South Sudan

A mass nutrition screening of pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children under five at Mayen Ulem, Aweil North, South Sudan. Photo: Kieran McConville/ Concern Worldwide.
A mass nutrition screening of pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children under five at Mayen Ulem, Aweil North, South Sudan. Photo: Kieran McConville/ Concern Worldwide.

Famine has been formally declared in two regions of South Sudan – the first classification of its kind in six years. According to UNICEF and WFP, 100,000 people are facing starvation and a further one million people are on the brink of famine.

South Sudan is in the grip of a food crisis that threatens millions of lives. The combination of persistent conflict and economic instability in the country has left millions of people without sufficient food supplies and it is estimated that 4.9 million people are food insecure.

Hunger threatens millions of lives

Across much of the country, household access to food and cash income has declined as conflict has disrupted planting, harvesting, and other livelihood activities. This has severely affected the economy with 800% inflation pushing the price of staple foods out of the reach of many.

Almost two million people are internally displaced in South Sudan and the resurgence of conflict in July 2016, has caused over 450,000 people to flee the country, exacerbating the food insecurity and bringing the total number of refugees to 1.3 million.

Access is needed to save lives

Commenting on the situation, Concern’s Regional Director for the Horn of Africa, Feargal O’Connell, who, until recently, was the aid agency’s Country Director in South Sudan, said:

“Aid needs to get through now. A lack of action could result in thousands of innocent women, children and men dying because of hunger and this must not be allowed to happen. World leaders must intervene to help achieve a full cessation of hostilities, which is necessary to get aid through.”

Concern is responding

Concern is on the ground in South Sudan, providing emergency support to those who need it most. We’re providing emergency nutrition, food distributions and water support in critically affected areas. In Northern Bahr el Ghazal, we have up scaled our nutrition response from 42 to 48 nutrition sites and we have established three static nutrition sites outside Bentiu PoC in Unity State.

We’re scaling up our life-saving assistance in the worst affected areas, but we cannot hold back the tide alone. The international community must work together to prevent the further escalation of famine.

“Ultimately, humanitarian assistance can only do so much. Meaningful peace and security is the only solution to stop this needless suffering,” – Feargal O’Connell, Regional Director for the Horn of Africa.

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