SEATTLE — A famine was recently declared by the U.N. in parts of war-torn South Sudan, adversely impacting a collective 5.5 million individuals. The famine in South Sudan is characterized by one in five households facing starvation, coupled with a death rate of two people per 10,000 of the population. A famine of this magnitude hasn’t been declared for six years, and the nation already has a poverty rate of about 80 percent.
An aggregate 1.6 million Internally Displaced Individuals (IDPs), vulnerable people from neighboring countries, and the rest of the population are currently under threat from the famine in South Sudan. The situation today is a product of the vicious cycle of a civil war in South Sudan that began in 2013.
The combined effects of deteriorating food security, unpredictable weather patterns and a lack of funding from overseas donors are making it difficult to alleviate the famine. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has estimated that $4.4 billion is needed to combat famine in South Sudan.
The Unity State of South Sudan will be especially affected by the debilitating effects of this humanitarian emergency because it collectively houses more than 100,000 individuals. Aid allocation is a competition with other countries in the region. For example, a U.N. appeal for $1.6 billion to fund humanitarian projects in South Sudan may not be as successful as an appeal for aid to Somalia that needs to be addressed at the same time.
This conflict could cause a domino effect and hinder the provision of aid to many other vulnerable countries in the region. Humanitarian organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Mercy Corps are finding it equally hard due to the lack of funding for medicine and food assistance for combatting cases of malnourishment.
However, foreign aid may remain the only way to possibly ease the problem, and the U.K. has pledged $125 million for various humanitarian projects in Somalia and South Sudan. Additionally, the European Commission pledged 82 million euros and the Swiss government is providing CHF 15 million to fund humanitarian efforts in South Sudan.
It is vital to creating more avenues to channel aid so that immediate assistance can reach individuals who have been especially stricken by the famine in South Sudan.
The International Medical Corps has overcome this obstacle to some extent by supplying essential medical and healthcare services to seven states to counteract the effects of famine in South Sudan. The organization has about 80 health centers and is providing critical medical aid to the people, but reaching all 11 states may not be feasible at this juncture owing to inaccessibility.
Pope Francis recently alerted the international community to the famine in South Sudan to encourage U.N. aid agencies and neighboring aid convoys to collaboratively and cohesively work towards the provision of aid, and possibly help in alleviating the famine in South Sudan.
Even though the famine in South Sudan is still a developing story, the overall progression and successful aid deliveries may be a viable short-term solution for the people. However, aid must be efficiently provided for beneficial impacts to be reaped by the multitudes.
– Shivani Ekkanath