More than half of South Sudan at risk of hunger

by Norwegian Refugee Council | Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
Monday, 19 May 2014 10:08 GMT

Achol, 19, arrived to Minkamman in December 2013, fleeing the violence in Bor. "I no longer felt safe in Bor", she said. In february 2014 NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland met her in Minkamman, where NRC is distributing NFIs such as shelter materials. Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen

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Famine is looming in South Sudan. 7.3 million people could face hunger by August. Donors that meet at the pledging conference for South Sudan in Oslo Tuesday should act immediately.

-We have so far failed the most vulnerable in South Sudan. The question is how many will die of hunger, violence and disease. Time is running out and we all have to step up. If we do not get more money now millions of people could face famine within a few months, says Secretary General Jan Egeland.

Since the fighting in South Sudan began in December 2013, 1.3 million people of a population of 11.5 millions have been forced to flee their homes. The rainy season has started in parts of the country and the heavy rain in coming weeks will make most roads in the country impassable. Pre-stocking of food is urgent.

-If the international community does not ramp up operations immediately South Sudan could be facing one of the worst hunger disasters in recent decades. Donors that meet in Oslo should pledge the needed 1.2 billion dollars, says Egeland who will be leading one of the panel discussions at the up-coming pledging conference in Oslo.

About 80.000 of the 1.3 million people that have been forced to flee theirs homes have sought refuge in UN Camps. The vast majority including thousands of unaccompanied children are in remote parts of South Sudan where the humanitarian organizations are delivering very limited assistance.

-The international community has focused the attention to those displaced to UN-bases and neglected many of the people who are out of our sight. Most of the displaced are in remote areas and will soon be affected by a deadly cocktail of floods and famine. These are the most vulnerable people and some of them have received no assistance at all, says Egeland. He believes the aid groups in South Sudan, including NRC, must increase their work outside Juba and UN camps. To achieve this there is a need of more money, more experienced personnel and increased security.

Jorunn Smith, a nutrition expert from NRCs roster NORCAP visited recently the Upper Nile region to assess needs in remote areas.

-I saw many malnourished women and children. Some communities do not have food at all. The needs are enormous, says Smith.