Crisis in South Sudan: more people hungry than ever before

By Oxfam
A group of elderly women at one of the ports in Nyal, waiting to be taken back to their homes in the islands by Oxfam after the biometric registration by WFP. Oxfam also transported them to the mainland otherwise they would have missed out in the registration meaning no food when the distribution arrives. Those trips could take up to 6 hours by canoe to the farthest island. Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam

Millions are still at risk of famine

New figures released today show that while famine is no longer officially declared in South Sudan, the country’s food crisis is worse than ever. Thanks to strong humanitarian response and aid, famine has been halted in the two counties where it had been declared earlier this year, but ongoing conflict continues to fuel widespread extreme hunger.

“Thanks to aid efforts, famine has been pushed back, but 45,000 people in these areas and in former Jonglei State are still facing famine-like conditions," said Sara Almer, Oxfam South Sudan Country Director. "There is no room for complacency: the food crisis continues to spread across the country and 6 million people—half the population of South Sudan—are still facing severe hunger and need immediate help. More than one million people in former Jonglei State are living in extreme hunger, having gone for months without enough food to eat.”  

In order for famine to be declared, a very specific set of guidelines is used, which makes it such a rare event. This latest update has said that while even if famine is no longer technically declared, these overall numbers are worse than ever before and many are still living in famine-like conditions or could easily fall into further crisis. Any levels of extreme hunger are unacceptable.

Almer added, “Aid is helping, but the coming rainy season in South Sudan means that delivering help to people will be harder. With the rains also come higher risks of cholera and other water-borne disease epidemics. And the rains occur at the hungriest time of the year just before this year's crops are harvested.”

Oxfam is providing food assistance to 415,000 people as well as providing over 140,000 people with clean water and sanitation, which are equally important to keep people healthy and famine at bay. But as the situation continues to deteriorate, urgent help is needed now and there is no time to delay. We need to ramp up our response now to keep this crisis from becoming even more deadly.

In addition to urgent funding, Oxfam is also calling for safe access so the aid community can deliver aid and a collective commitment to tackle the root causes of this crisis.

“While immediate help to fight hunger is still needed now, what the people of South Sudan ultimately need is peace,” said Almer. “Along with sending aid, the international community needs to redouble its efforts to bring all warring parties to the negotiating table and to peacefully end their differences.”

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