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Humanitarian Crisis In South Sudan Is Spiraling Out Of Control As Aid Fails To Arrive

By Countercurrents

10 July, 2014

Stima, 18 and her baby Moses. Photo: Keiran Doherty/Oxfam

South Sudan is currently Africa 's worst crisis with nearly 4 million people, a third of the country's population, at risk of severe hunger. Aid effort in South Sudan has only so far reached half of those-in-need. [1]

The UN has warned that 50,000 children could die from malnutrition if the aid effort does not increase. Since the current crisis began in December 2013 fighting has forced 1.5 million people from their homes and numbers continuing to rise.

Nearly 400,000 people from South Sudan are refugees in neighboring countries.

In the UN camp in Bentiu child deaths are well above emergency threshold.

With malnutrition and sickness rising and an ever increasing number of people forced to flee their homes humanitarian crisis is spiraling out of control.

On the 3rd anniversary of South Sudan 's independence, Oxfam has warned that appeals to fund the aid effort are failing.

Appeals for money for the aid effort are also failing. The UN's $1.8bn appeal is so far less than half funded. Oxfam's own appeal for funds has only raised a half of the $30.35m it needs.

Urgent need for funds

“The world's attention is elsewhere as Africa 's worst humanitarian catastrophe descends into more misery. We will be staring into the abyss and fail to avert a famine if funds do not start arriving soon to help the people of South Sudan at risk of starvation, disease and violence. More than six months into this crisis the aid effort is stumbling and will not cope without a timely injection of funds ,” said Oxfam's Executive Director Winnie Byanyima.

Malnutrition and cholera

An Oxfam news release said:

“In the three most affected areas of South Sudan – Upper Nile , Unity and Jonglei – child malnutrition rates are rising. Thousands of people, many malnourished, have arrived at the UN camp in Bentiu, Unity State , in the last few weeks and over a six week period 100 children have died in the camp. In the UN camp in Malakal, Upper Nile , and Bor, Jonglei, people are living in atrocious conditions and are walking knee deep in mud and water.”

According to Oxfam, The stagnant water from the seasonal heavy rains increases the risk of disease. A cholera outbreak began in the capital Juba mid-April and though it has been contained there are fears that it could spread to other areas. Fighting in Upper Nile is seriously hampering the aid effort and in Jonglei over 400,000 have been force to flee their homes.

Refugees weak and exhausted

Refugees who have managed to cross into neighboring countries are weak and exhausted, said the aid agency.

Over 158,000 refugees have arrived in Ethiopia . At hospitals run by Medecins Sans Frontieres one in ten children admitted are dying. Another 117,000 refugees have arrived in Uganda , 85,000 in Sudan and nearly 40,000 in Kenya .

Political crisis

Winnie Byanyima said:

“This is a not a crisis caused by drought or flood. It is a political crisis turned violent. The people of South Sudan can only put their lives back together once the fighting ends. While peace talks remain stalled there will be little hope of a swift end to the conflict without sustained pressure on all parties to come to a peaceful resolution. That peace will only last if it meets the needs of all South Sudan 's people.”

“Civilians caught up in this crisis which is not of their making will need generous international help to avert a famine and further suffering. For the sake of our common humanity we cannot look away at this time of crisis,”  

Aid effort in jeopardy

A group of seven major international aid agencies said they face a shortfall of $89 million just when the South Sudan humanitarian crisis edges closer to the risk of famine. [2]

They warned their aid efforts were under threat due to a lack of funds.

Funding shortfalls

World Vision estimates that 250,000 children are at risk of severe malnutrition. WV faces the largest single funding gap of $33 million.

Oxfam has only managed to raise half of the $30.35 million it needs.

Save the Children needs an extra $19.5 million.

Care International is short of more than $9 million to continue and expand its work.

Christian Aid needs an additional $7 million and Tearfund faces a $2.4 million deficit.

The funding crisis is not affecting the agencies alone. The UN's $1.8 billion appeal is so far less than half funded.

Risk of famine

The risk of famine is rising as the number of people requiring help is steadily increasing.

The agencies said that there is a desperate need for peace in South Sudan so that people can go home, go back to school, plant crops and patch their lives back together. International pressure is needed on all parties to the conflict to end the violence and to build a nation for all South Sudanese people.

Non-functioning food markets

Families' food stocks are low due to sharing with those displaced and in some cases food stocks have been looted during the course of the conflict. Food markets are not functioning and with trade routes hindered this is likely to further exacerbate the crisis. Destruction, looting and occupation of health facilities have impeded health services and many facilities lack essential supplies.

The aid effort is hampered not only by a lack of funds but also insecurity and poor roads and in some areas airdrops are the only way aid can get to people.

Rising malnutrition

Tearfund reports the number of malnourished children and mothers needing food from its six feeding centers in remote communities in Jonglei has more than quadrupled compared to this time last year. New admissions have doubled every month since March this year, a trend which is expected to rise in the coming months.

Perry Mansfield, director of World Vision's programs in South Sudan , said: "We estimate that a quarter of a million children in South Sudan are at risk of severe malnutrition."

Without additional funding Christian Aid it cannot provide the needed humanitarian assistance to more than 150,000 people. This figure may rise further if the conflict persists in the coming months. 

Women and children: worst affected

Wendy Taeuber, IRC Country Director in South Sudan said: “As food becomes scarcer, women are forced to take greater risks to try to feed their families. At times, this includes walking long distances to search for anything for their families to eat, to fetch firewood to use or to sell, and to look for water. Worsening food insecurity is placing women and girls at serious risks of sexual violence, exploitation and abuse.”

In South Sudan , children have been the victims of terrible violence that has erupted around them and engulfed their communities. Hundreds of thousands have been made homeless. Many have seen friends, parents and family members attacked or killed. Thousands have been separated from their families and 2 million children will be facing a hunger crisis by the end of August.

Pete Walsh, Save the Children's Country Director in South Sudan , said: “ South Sudan is a newly formed country and its first generation of children are eating potentially noxious berries just to survive another day. They need help and if we wait any longer, I fear all hope will be lost.”


[1] http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2014-07-09/3rd-anniversary-south-sudan-independence

[2] http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2014-07-09/aid-effort-avert-south-sudan-famine-jeopardy




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