In February the United Nations officially declared a famine in South Sudan. What is most disheartening about this most recent famine in the world’s youngest country is it’s largely man-made. Constant infighting among South Sudanese opposition forces and the government makes growing crops nearly impossible. And, the instability in the country continues to drive up food costs. 100,000 people are directly suffering from famine, and another 4.9 million are living in extremely food insecure situations according to the United Nations. One million children in South Sudan are malnourished.
In April, Congress unanimously called upon the Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the World Food Program to continue food aid to the millions affected by the famine. Congress, however, did not appropriate new relief funding to the region keeping in step with the Trump administration’s continued cuts in foreign aid.
The Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said last week that if nothing is done, 20 million people could starve to death within the next six months in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria combined.
“Famine does not just kill people, it contributes to social instability and also perpetuates a cycle of poverty and aid dependency that endures for decades,” said the UN FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.
While the problem is monumental there has been a budget put aside for famine relief by the international aid community. Governments will also have to do their part to help stabilize the region including the United States, even though the task of some in Congress to attach new funding to the cause seems well-intentioned, but probably a pipe dream for now. There are organizations that you can support with your own donations to support famine relief.
There are organizations that you can support with your own donations. Here are five I recommend because I have seen their work in the field and have always remained impressed by their infrastructure and aid relief. Links go directly to donation pages.
A ceremony was held at Central Equatoria Police Headquarters in Juba, South Sudan, to mark the completion of a sensitization workshop for 38 members of the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS), which is also known as South Sudan Police Service (SSPS). The workshop in Confidence and Trust Building Policing Strategy was conducted with support from UN Police (UNPOL) of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), as well as the Mission’s Human Rights and Child Protection components.
An SSPS officer during the ceremony.
05 June 2015
Juba, South Sudan
Last month, a United Nations team travelled to Western Equitoria, Central Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal in South Sudan to assess road conditions, an important task when famine looms in a region that is mostly agrarian. Without passable roads it is impossible for lifesaving, critical health supplies, health workers, aid agencies, and most importantly food to reach remote areas that are cut off from main city centers especially during the rainy season and when the need is most critical for vulnerable populations.
Aid agencies including UNICEF, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and the World Food Program have warned the world that a famine is quickly nearing in South Sudan amid continued failed peace talks and violence. Famine is an extremely strong word to use when it comes to food insecurity and no one wants to utter it until the very last moment when people, especially children, are already on the brink of dying.
Logistics Clusterposted a telling map of South Sudandated from May 2, 2014. In Western Equitoria, Central Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal there is little infrastructure save for some primary roads, which are questionably passable, and a few primary cities. The lack of reliable infrastructure continues to make humanitarian relief difficult to fulfill.
According to UNICEF, nearly one million children in South Sudan will require treatment for acute malnutrition this year and according to Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, 50,000 may die from malnutrition in the coming months.
“The world should not wait for a famine to be announced while children here are dying each and every day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a statement, speaking after a visit to the devastated city of Malakal, where tens of thousands of people still take shelter on a UN base. “Today we spoke to mothers who have struggled through conflict, displacement and hunger to stop their children from dying. We all have to do more, and quickly, to keep more children alive.”