South Sudan: A forgotten crisis
Action Against Hunger reports alarming increase in number of severely malnourished children under five years in parts of South Sudan
Aug 11 2015
There has been an alarming increase in the number of severely malnourished children under five in parts of South Sudan, reports Action Against Hunger.
As a new phase of negotiations to end the civil war in South Sudan began on 6 August in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the organisation has seen a spike in child admissions at their stabilisation centres in Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states.
Last year, the organisation recorded a significant increase in the number of children under five requiring vital support from nutrition centres, with field teams admitting more than 10,000 children in central and eastern Aweil. In the first half of 2015, they have already seen more than 9,000 children.
Conflict erupted in South Sudan in December 2013, displacing more than two million people, including 500,000 who have become refugees in neighbouring countries.
Before it broke out, undernutrition rates were already nearing the emergency threshold. Spiralling violence has exacerbated the situation, worsening living conditions, particularly for those living in the states of Northern Bahr El Ghazal and Warrap. Right now, the global acute malnutrition rates in Northern Bahr el Ghazal exceed 23 per cent, a figure well above the World Health Organisation’s emergency threshold of 15 per cent.
People are facing high malnutrition rates, a lack of drinking water and chronic food insecurity. Around 40 per cent of the population, around 4.6 million people, are at immediate risk of severe food shortages. An estimated one million people are living in a state of emergency, nearing starvation.
Between May and June, a worrying 30 per cent increase in admissions was observed in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, with 1,827 emaciated children admitted for treatment. The situation is similar in West Gogrial, a neighbouring county in Warrap state where the admission rate increased by 26 per cent during the same period.
A nutritional survey conducted in June showed a global acute malnutrition rate equal to 29.1 per cent – the highest rate recorded by Action Against Hunger in the area since 2008.
Despite clear medical data confirming the significant nutritional deterioration in the population of these two states, obtaining adequate funds to cope with food shortages remains difficult. Action Against Hunger teams have replenished vital supplies but undernutrition rates and treatment admissions are increasing, and the people of South Sudan urgently need international support.
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