Save the Children is warning of a devastating large-scale hunger crisis among children in South Sudan, as new data shows a dramatic increase in food insecurity that has pushed one million children to the brink of starvation – as well as projections that this figure will rise by 13% in the first half of next year.

The charity is calling for immediate action to prevent tens of thousands of children from dying of hunger. This follows a joint statement by UN agencies saying 6.5 million people in South Sudan – 53% of the population – have been pushed into severe food crisis– a rise of nearly 10% from the start of the year.

Recent severe flooding, intercommunal violence, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and general economic decline have impacted lives and livelihoods, including loss of crops, livestock, homes, and access to hospitals and other basic services. The UN estimates that 856,000 people have been affected by flooding since July, with some 400,000 people displaced in recent months.

The IPC data projects that this figure – the number of people in IPC Phase 3 and above – will increase to 60% of the population in the period between April and July 2021.

Just over two million people – an estimated one million of whom are children – are in IPC phase 4, which is only one step away from catastrophe in some counties. As well as the numbers in this critical stage, hundreds of thousands more children don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

For 24,000 people already in IPC phase 5 – described by the food security classification initiative as ‘the absolute inaccessibility of food to an entire population or sub-group of a population, potentially causing death in the short term’ – catastrophe is already on their doorstep. Almost half of these people are in Jonglei state, which has borne the brunt of the recent flooding and inter communal violence. The rest are in Warrap state, where livelihoods and markets have been disrupted because of intercommunal violence.

Patrick Analo, Save the Children’s Acting Country Director of South Sudan, said: “This year has been particularly tough on the children of South Sudan. Our teams on the ground were telling us that most families are earning below the poverty line of US $1.90 per day, but with economic decline and currency devaluation, this is now likely to be much lower. Markets are almost empty due to failed crops, and the little there is will not feed everyone. Children are already dying from the consequences of malnutrition and hunger, and more will follow if the international community does not act now, and increase its funding to help the children of South Sudan.”

Save the Children is currently providing basic health care for displaced children, including screening for malnutrition. The organization has reached over 40,000 people between July and end of November 2020 in Jonglei and Easter Equatorial States.


SOURCE: Save the Children

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