South Sudan: Urgent action is required
Andrea Tamburini, CEO of our sister organisation in the USA, reports.
Dec 16 2014
One year has passed since conflict erupted in South Sudan, the world's youngest nation. Since then, the crisis has forced over 1.9 million people from their homes, and has left nearly four million people struggling to meet basic needs such as water and food.
Action Against Hunger has been in what is now South Sudan for over two decades, responding to high malnutrition rates, lack of access to clean water, and chronic problems related to families' access to food. But our presence in South Sudan today is more important than ever.
South Sudanese families are living day to day under the threat of violence, with no clear end in sight. Peace talks, which were due to resume in late November, have been postponed “indefinitely.”
Over the past year, people have been separated from their families, livestock, fields, without the means to earn a livelihood. They have been weakened by waterborne illness and malnutrition. Stocks are depleted and coping mechanisms have eroded. Beyond the ten states of South Sudan, the conflict has contributed to instability throughout the region, with over 250,000 South Sudanese people fleeing to Ethiopia alone.
The nutrition situation is so dire, and in such a large part of the country, that a large-scale, well-resourced intervention is necessary to avert disaster in 2015. The number of people who are severely food insecure is projected to increase to 2.5 million people in the first few months of the year.
We must act now to pre-position food and to scale up response capacity. To break the cycle of hunger, we must ensure that food security assistance like seeds and tools are in place before the planting season in April and May. To break the cycle of violence, a political solution must be found. We all must work to ensure the protection of people in South Sudan and to ensure that humanitarian workers are not prevented from reaching people in need.
We are at a key moment where we can lessen suffering by taking early preventative action and advocating for a quick end to the conflict. Thanks to quick response and funding, and a brief respite in fighting, donors and humanitarians were able to prevent famine in the past six months. But donors must maintain their commitment. Now is the time to amplify efforts. With a focused, timely response, we can change the lives of the South Sudanese people for the better.
Of course other crises need attention - Action Against Hunger is fighting Ebola in West Africa and helping Syrian refugees - but we have not stopped working for the people of South Sudan, and we will keep South Sudan on the top of our agenda. The cost of forgetting about this looming crisis will be years of unnecessary suffering and a setback to the long-awaited progress we have all hoped for in the newest country in the world.
By Andrea Tamburini
Action Against Hunger in South Sudan
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