Ten years ago, thousands of people filled the streets of Juba in South Sudan to celebrate the birth of what is still the world's youngest nation. Ten years later, independence is no longer a cause for celebration.
South Sudan, is facing its worst-ever hunger crisis as it marks its 10 year anniversary, with 7.2 million people, including millions of children, on the brink of or in famine, Save the Children said. An estimated 1.4 million children are already suffering from acute malnutrition.
The number of people in grave danger of starvation has risen by 50% compared to the same season a decade ago when 40% of the population was experiencing crisis levels of food insecurity.
The acute child malnutrition this year is the highest figure since 2013. Malnutrition can cause stunting, impede mental and physical development, increase the risk of developing other illnesses, and ultimately cause death. Across South Sudan, Save the Children is treating thousands of children with acute malnutrition, with staff reporting increasing numbers of babies arriving at clinics in life-threatening situations. In the past three months alone, Save the Children diagnosed 7,342 infants with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) cases, of which 4,219 infants were admitted into hospital for treatment.
Rama Hansraj, Save the Children’s Country Director in South Sudan, said:
“The birth of a new nation is often a time of hope and joy for many of the people living within it, but sadly this promise is yet to deliver for South Sudan. In so many ways, things have gotten worse for children since the country was formed in 2011.
Civil war and climate shocks have all played their part in pushing South Sudan away from where it should be, ten years on. South Sudan is not just a story of conflict. It is a story of generations of deliberate displacement of civilians, destruction of livelihoods, and land occupation, compounded by climate shocks like unprecedented flooding and locust plagues, and a story of COVID-19 and its obliteration of already-vulnerable social infrastructure.
It’s only by addressing the root causes of this crisis, as well as mitigating the devastating effects of the pandemic, will we be able to prevent a generation succumbing to the immediate and long-term consequences of malnutrition.”
Save the Children is warning this situation will most likely deteriorate in the coming months due to ongoing violence, high food prices, climatic shocks, and barriers to humanitarian access unless urgent national and global action is taken.
Last month that more than 5.7 million children under five are on the brink of starvation across the globe, with the world is facing the biggest global hunger crisis of the 21st century.