Some women arrived to have children examined in a clinic in northern South Sudan (Picture: UNICEF)
North Africa –-Famine has been declared in two counties of South Sudan according to an announcement from the South Sudan government and three United Nations agencies. They claim the tragedy is a direct result of a prolonged civil war and a continuing economic crisis.
Around 100,000 people are on the verge of starvation while more than 40% of the country’s population, five million people, are in need of urgent help. More than one million children are suffering from acute malnutrition, meaning they are at risk of death.
Since South Sudan’s independence in 2011 they have struggled with civil war, a collapsing economy and a refugee crisis.
The war has affected farming and how civilians would normally grow and produce their own food. It leaves them little choice but to scavenge what they can to survive.
The UN’s World Food Programme, along with nongovernmental organizations, want to do what they can in order to save as many lives as possible.
Serge Tissot, of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, understands the ongoing tragedy.
“Our worst fears have been realized,” said Tissot. “Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive.”
The UN World Food Programme has been very much involved in the effort to get these people food over the past week or so releasing sacks of food during airdrops and even landing helicopters to give food handouts. Unfortunately, it is not enough. According to Tissot, civilians are still relying on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch.
Humanitarian groups are finding it extremely difficult to reach the hardest-hit areas in the country and may run out of food supplies if they can’t secure a substantial amount of funds in the next six months.
If things do not improve quickly, it is feared that the famine will spread to a number of other countries in the country as it has been reported that an additional one million South Sudanese are on the brink of starvation.