South Sudan warning: respond to humanitarian crisis now or face catastrophe

Emergencies, In the field article written on the 24 Apr 2014

The lives of seven million people are at risk as food crisis and conflict grips South Sudan. The international community needs to step up with a massive injection of emergency aid.

A major food crisis is endangering millions of people in South Sudan as the country reels from a violent conflict which erupted in December last year. The violence has caused more than a million people to flee their homes, markets and health facilities have been destroyed and cropping patterns have been disrupted by the fighting.

As a result, not enough seed has been planted – and seasonal rains are making things worse. Now the international community must face up to the fact that 7 million people are at risk of severe food insecurity in the coming year unless they get more help.

With falling food production and failing markets, the resulting widespread food insecurity is leading to alarming rates of malnutrition. The figures of children with malnutrition treated at feeding centres in some of the hardest hit areas has more than doubled since last year, and children under the age of five are at particular risk.

In February 2014 it was estimated that 1.25 million South Sudanese children under the age of five would need immediate nutrition services by June.

The time to act is now

There is still time to prevent the worst from happening in South Sudan. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past, not repeat them. That means rapidly scaling up food assistance and nutrition interventions now as well as other essential services like emergency water, sanitation and hygiene.

Oxfam is providing assistance in five areas of South Sudan from the capital Juba to the northern town of Melut and has helped 130,000 people caught up in this horrific crisis. Oxfam is also working with partners in Uganda to help refugees and host communities with water, sanitation and livelihoods needs.