Aid rapidly needs to reach hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who risk starvation in South Sudan following the declaration of famine, warns World Vision.
Almost half the country – 5.5 million people - will face severe food shortages by July unless things improve putting the lives of tens of thousands of children at risk.
The famine declaration, made for parts of the country, has been caused by a combination of conflict and drought but the numbers already impacted are worse than predicted just a few weeks ago.
Perry Mansfield, National Director for World Vision in South Sudan said: “The situation facing children who were already hungry and going without meals is now rapidly unravelling. If aid funding and deliveries are not immediately scaled up we should expect to see children facing a catastrophe and starvation and migration to find food on a massive scale.”
The famine declaration in South Sudan comes as the East Africa region faces drought with warnings too that neighbouring Somalia could soon slip into famine.
The famine declaration was today announced by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Technical Working Group, which is the body charged with making the careful analysis required to issue famine declarations. Famines are rarely issued and only when the food security situation is at its worst and death rates are rising.
The humanitarian community is appealing for US$1.6bn to provide life-saving assistance and protection to 5.8 million people.
World Vision, in partnership with World Food Programme is providing food assistance to half a million people in various parts of the country.
Mansfield warned: “The rainy season is only weeks away and once that arrives the roads become impassable meaning that millions of people will be cut off from aid. We have a small and rapidly closing window of opportunity to get food into these remote areas, to preposition it, before it is too late.”
World Vision is the world's largest international children's charity and has been working in South Sudan since 1989. Programmes include health, nutrition, food assistance, food security and economic development, water and sanitation, education, peace building, protection and distribution of household items.
Chloe Irvine, Head of External Affairs, World Vision New Zealand
Chloe.Irvine@worldvision.org.nz | +64 22 340 4271