'Final warning’ on South Sudan’s looming famine
SAVE THE CHILDREN STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO UN HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR PRESS CONFERENCE, JUBA, 22.11.17
Almost a year after famine was declared in Unity State, South Sudan remains trapped in a vicious cycle of starvation and disease, with the UN grimly predicting renewed famine in early 2018.
Today, [Wednesday 22 November], Save the Children has issued a ‘final warning’ call for urgent humanitarian assistance to prevent children from dying unnecessarily of hunger and preventable disease. Malnutrition has soared, especially among children. More than 1.1 million children under five are forecast to be malnourished in 2018, double the number predicted at the same time last year. Some 300,000 of them are on the verge of death by starvation.
The new UN Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan today called for free and unhindered access for aid agencies. The need to safely deliver life-saving food and medical supplies remains urgent. Millions of people across South Sudan will rely on aid to survive in 2018. Any reduction in official numbers does not reflect a reduced need. The figures for those reliant on aid to survive look lower because 2.1 million people have fled the country, 63% of them children.
Kevin Watkins, Save the Children CEO said: “We cannot stand by and watch South Sudan descend into famine again. This is the final alarm call.
“Famine is always man-made and we must be clear that the looming famine in South Sudan is not climate-related. Four years of violence have created the conditions for mass hunger. It is intolerable that, in the face of desperate needs, aid agencies’ are being denied access to starving communities.
“All parties to the conflict must reach and stick to a peace agreement. It's time to put the interests of South Sudan’s people first.
“We cannot wait for images of famine to hit the news before helping the children of South Sudan.”
The "lean season" - when households run short of food before the next harvest - is forecast to start in January, three months earlier than usual. Food prices have soared, with prices for sacks of staples such as sorghum, maize and wheat flour up by 281% compared with the same time last year.
Of the two million people who have fled the country, one million gave gone into Uganda alone. There, World Food Programme (WFP) cuts are reported to be forcing hungry families to return to South Sudan as they are not receiving bare minimum meals in underfunded camps.
South Sudan is statistically the seventh worst place in the world to be a child.  Half the children are not in school. A fifth of girls are married before they’re 14, meaning their bodies are not developed enough to cope with childbirth. The country has one of the worst records in the world for mothers dying in childbirth.
Deng* a 7 year old boy who has fled to Uganda, said: “I really really want to go to where my mother is. I miss my mother. I’m scared my mother is dead because we don’t know where she is. We got separated when we were running from the people fighting. They were killing everyone. I don’t know why people are fighting. I was so scared when I saw the people fighting and I saw dead bodies lying on the ground everywhere.”
Joy*, a 14 year old girl who also fled to Uganda, said: “We ran away because the war has turned up on us as civilians. When they come, they come to slaughter you with a knife or a machete. We could not wait for that to happen”.
Joan*, a midwife, in the same Ugandan refugee camp, who cares for Joy,* said: “When the armed groups come to the village they would rape young girls. Ten men can sleep with one woman, no problem if you die. They came and killed people and left them by the roadside, some slaughtered (with a knife to the throat). What I have seen in South Sudan now is like nothing I have seen before. They used not to kill women; now they are killing women, children and the elderly”.
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Notes to Editors
*names changed to protect identity. For full testimony see our free to use multi-media collection HERE.
- 2.1 million have fled across borders from South Sudan and 63% of the refugee population are children. 63% of 2.1 million people is 1.3 million children
 2.1 million have fled across borders from South Sudan and 63% of the refugee population are children. 63% of 2.1 million people is 1.3 million children: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/UNHCR%20South%20Sudan%20Situation%20Regional%20Dashboard%20-%2015OCT17.pdf