CARE International, a U.S.-based relief agency, naming South Sudan to be “the most pressing humanitarian crisis in Africa, stated that the United Nations’ most recent appeal for South Sudan is less than half funded. Some 1.5 million South Sudanese residents are now estimated to be displaced within the country, thereby decreasing their access to reliable food sources and requiring them to share already-limited supplies.
“We will be staring into the abyss and failing to avert a famine if funds do not start arriving soon,” Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam, said. “This is a not a crisis caused by drought or flood. It is a political crisis turned violent. The people of South Sudan can only put their lives back together once the fighting ends.”
While solving the political problem at the root of South Sudan’s current violence is a significant priority, aid workers say the international community’s most dire concern should be for the nutritional needs of South Sudanese children.
Dr. Jenny Bell, a medical worker and expert on South Sudan with the University of Calgary in Canada, acknowledges that “the nation’s health situation wasn’t brilliant before December,” but warns that the civil conflict has “compounded” the country’s medical issues. South Sudan “already had the world’s highest maternal mortality rate, and it had been estimated that one in five South Sudanese children die before they reach age five,” she told IPS.
“But even though there had barely been enough food before, now there really won’t be enough, as internally displaced farmers were unable to grow crops due to the violence, and cannot do so now because South Sudan is well into its rainy season.” she adds that despite the “amazing agricultural potential” of South Sudan, funding for this purpose has been weak.
Sandra Bulling, media coordinator for CARE International explained “We need to have photos of children starving and dying before the world reacts to such a disaster. This is what has worked for Somalia … you need these pictures to talk. For South Sudan we do all these press releases and calls to action, but as long as there is no big report with photos to show how bad the situation is, there is no response.”