4.9M South Sudanese Need Help As Famine Ravages African Country
Feb 21, 2017 11:06 AM EST
Almost 100,000 people are on the verge of starvation due to a famine in South Sudan. Agencies reported that about 4.9 million people, making up 40 percent of the country's population, is particularly in dire need of food supplies.
The UN agencies reported that a massive number of people are dying of hunger, while another 1 million people are on the brink of famine, which includes the suffering of over a million children from acute malnutrition in Sudan. UNCHR has also reported sufferings of intense fighting, kidnappings, rape, fears of armed groups and threats to life in South Sudan.
South Sudan has undergone a long history of civil war, refugee crisis, and a collapsing economy since it gained its independence in 2011. After two years of relative peace following its independence, trouble broke out between President Salva Kiir's Dinka army and the Nuer people of his former deputy Riek Machar.
The fighting has intensified since July 2016, indulging other ethnic groups and rendering formerly agriculturally rich Equatoria region into a permanent war zone. The war has eventually disrupted farming, leaving people with no choice but to scavenge for food to survive.
Emma Jane Drew, Oxfam's humanitarian program manager in South Sudan called the famine "a man-made tragedy" and urged the conflict to be put to an end so that aid can reach those in need. "Vulnerable people, out of reach of life-saving assistance due to the conflict, are paying the ultimate price," she said in a statement.
The famine has gripped parts of South Sudan, the hardest-hit areas that humanitarian groups had found extremely difficult to reach, according to CNN. George Fominyen, the UN food program spokesman in South Sudan's capital, Juba, said "We have to talk to 10 to 15 people and ask if it's possible to send a team there. You cannot just access these places without prior agreement."
Fominyen explained that the famine has not been sudden, but had rather been building for years. He recalled the steady worsening of food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition in South Sudan since the conflict started three years ago.