A third of South Sudanese face hunger on anniversary
Australia’s leading aid organisation, World Vision, is warning that up to 4.8 million people in South Sudan are facing hunger.
The world’s youngest country marks five years of independence on 9 July amid a food crisis caused by internal conflict and a depleted harvest.
In the past two weeks, a further 70,000 people have been displaced by violence, while child malnutrition has jumped by 40 per cent in the past six months.
“Currently, there is less than half the funds needed to ensure a population the size of Sydney doesn’t go hungry,” World Vision CEO Tim Costello said. “We call on the Australian Government to increase its commitment to this crisis so basic food can be delivered to the South Sudanese – including more than two million children.”
Since December 2013, more than 10,000 people have been killed and more than 2.3 million people displaced.
Mr Costello is urging the transitional South Sudanese government to intensify its reconciliation efforts to hasten the peace process.
Despite the ceasefire deal signed nearly a year ago, which provided renewed hopes for South Sudan, the ongoing fighting continues to force hundreds of people to flee to neighbouring countries each day in search of safety.
The conflict has taken its toll on children who make up half of South Sudan’s population. According to UNICEF, more than 16,000 children have been recruited by armed groups. At least one in three children is not accessing an education.
Fifteen year old John Malak is raising his younger siblings including his four year old brother.
“I am their mother and their father and I take care of them every day. Life is very hard,” he said
John’s village was attacked three years ago.
“I grew up in a beautiful village with my parents and siblings and life was good,” he said.
“The rebels burned down houses and killed anyone they came across. My family ran away, but we lost each other in the chaos. My siblings and I ran for as long as we could and on the way, we met our neighbour from the village, who had also fled. She told me that my father had been killed and that my mother was most likely dead too. I don’t know about my mother for sure. She might be somewhere, maybe in a different camp and doesn’t know that we are here,” John said.
John and his younger siblings have found safety in a refugee camp in northern Uganda. With the help of World Vision they are now attending school and have hope for the future.
World Vision has been working in South Sudan since 1989 and has reached more than 1.3 million South Sudanese in the past two years, including more than 630,000 children.
Jeremiah Young, World Vision South Sudan’s Policy, Advocacy and Peacebuilding Adviser said, “As a result of funding shortfalls, donors have prioritised lifesaving interventions. This has caused agencies like World Vision to limit activities such as child protection, psychosocial support services, and family reunification programs that brought together parents and children who were separated while fleeing the fighting. World Vision had hoped to expand on its emergency education programs which are crucial to improving the short and long-term wellbeing of children in such conditions, but limited funds have hampered these efforts.”
World Vision is working in refugee camps within South Sudan and also across the border in Uganda where many people have sought refuge from violence and extreme food shortages.
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About World Vision in South Sudan
World Vision has been working in the area now known as South Sudan since 1989. We are working in camps and settlements to prevent disease, providing displaced people with food rations, clean drinking water and promoting good hygiene practices. Clean water and good sanitation is vital to stopping outbreaks of cholera and other diseases. We are also providing people affected by the violence with plastic sheeting, sleeping mats, water containers and other essentials. We have worked with more than 60,000 pregnant mothers to receive nutrition assistance and health care. In addition, World Vision is training staff to help reunite families who have been separated in the violence.
About South Sudan
Population of 12.6 million people, half of whom are children.
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66.39 child deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 4.37 deaths/1,000 live births in Australia
789 maternal deaths /100,000 live birth compared to Australia’s 6 deaths/100,000 live births