Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, where about 100,000 people are facing starvation, says a United Nations release dated February 20, 2017. In addition, a further one million people are on the brink of famine.
The ongoing civil war in South Sudan, now in its third year, has devastated the country’s economy, disrupting normal food transportation chains, and preventing countless small-scale farming households from growing their crops and tending their herds.
This is the most serious hunger crisis there has been in South Sudan since the conflict began. The UN news release notes that 4.9 million people—or about 40 percent of South Sudan’s population—are in need of urgent food, agriculture and nutrition assistance.
“We are deeply troubled by what we are seeing in South Sudan, and responding as we are able,” says Jim Cornelius, executive director of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, adding. “That the food crisis has led to famine conditions for so many, is devastating.”
Since the beginning of the recent civil conflict in December 2013, the Foodgrains Bank has committed more than $6 million to providing emergency food and nutrition assistance to more than 114,000 people.
Currently, the Foodgrains Bank is providing emergency food assistance to conflict-affected people in and around the capital city of Juba, where many people have sought safety. In neighbouring Uganda, where roughly 700,000 South Sudanese have fled in search of safety, the Foodgrains Bank is responding to the needs of 2,500 pregnant and nursing mothers who have arrived in the country severely undernourished.
This type of support is exceptionally critical, as children who do not receive proper nutrition while in the womb, or as infants, can bear the effects for the rest of their lives, long after the initial crisis has passed.
“The women, men and children in South Sudan are not forgotten, and they need urgent help,” says Cornelius, noting that immediate assistance is needed to ensure the famine does not spread.