THE spectre of famine is looming over South Sudan, three years
after it celebrated its independence, charities are warning.
Sectarian violence has left 1.5 million people displaced, while
heavy rains have left two-thirds of the country inaccessible by
road. Aid agencies are issuing urgent pleas for funds, for a crisis
that has little profile in the UK.
"We will be staring into the abyss and fail to avert a famine,
if funds do not start arriving soon," the chief executive of Oxfam,
Mark Goldring, said last week. "It is a political crisis turned
violent. . . We are asking the public to help us with our urgent
humanitarian work, but mainly we are calling on governments to fund
the aid effort before it is too late."
At the start of this month, the Disasters Emergency Committee
(DEC), which includes Oxfam, Christian Aid, Tearfund, and ten other
agencies, announced that its members had secured only half of the
£113 million needed to address the crisis. It predicted that, if
the conflict continued and more aid could not be delivered, famine
would arrive in some areas by August.
"Awareness of the crisis in the UK remains very low, making a
successful appeal extremely difficult," the chief executive of the
DEC, Saleh Saeed, said.
Tearfund reported last week that demand at its six feeding
centres in Jonglei, one of the worst-affected states, had more than
quadrupled in a year. World Vision reported a funding gap of £19
million, and warned that 250,0000 children were at risk of severe
The UN World Food Programme has a funding shortfall of $419
million. It is aiming to reach 2.9 million people this year - a
quarter of the South Sudanese population. Rations for some refugees
in the country have been halved.
The crisis began in December, when an alleged coup resulted in
fighting along ethnic lines (
News, 20 December). Farmers were displaced by the violence, and
prevented from planting and harvesting crops. The situation has
been exacerbated by the rainy season, the UN reports. Airlifts are
being used to drop food in some remote areas.
On 23 June, peace talks in Addis Ababa were adjourned, after the
Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, an opposition group,
failed to attend. Consultations with various stakeholders,
including faith groups, are continuing.
The UN estimates that seven million people in South Sudan are at
risk of starvation and disease. Cholera has broken out, and malaria
is described as being rampant.
Help on two wheels.
An Anglican diocese in South Sudan has distributed bicycles to
farmers to help ensure that food reaches people, the Anglican
Communion News Service reports. The diocese of Wau usedEU funding
to purchase 38 bicycles to help farmers get produce to market.