UNICEF today warned that 50,000 children will starve to death in South Sudan unless action is taken. The crisis could get even worse. The UN Children’s agency is desperately seeking donations for the emergency.
A UNICEF press release says, “Nearly a quarter of a million children in South Sudan will suffer from severe acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition, by the end of the year.”
South Sudan declared independence in 2011. However, the country was still suffering from hunger and poverty after years of conflict with Sudan, and also among rival tribes. Last year fighting started between the government and opposition forces.
The conflict has displaced nearly a million people. Food supplies all over the country have been disrupted. There are 3.7 million people in South Sudan suffering from hunger. There are reports of people living off bulbs and grasses.
Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, says, “Sadly, worse is yet to come. If conflict continues, and farmers miss the planting season, we will see child malnutrition on a scale never before experienced here. If we cannot get more funds and better access to reach malnourished children in South Sudan, tens of thousands of under-fives will die.”
UNICEF is trying to reach children with foods like Plumpy’nut that can stop malnutrition. They are also distributing medicines, clean water and other supplies. The UN World Food Programme is also trying to feed South Sudan’s war victims and they too are desperate for funding.
Veitch adds, “These are not mere statistics. They are the children for whom South Sudan holds so much potential and promise. We must not fail the children of this new and fragile nation.”
UNICEF has set up a donation page for South Sudan.