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Catastrophic hunger crisis endangers the lives of 40,000 in South Sudan
LONDON, 10 February 2016 // Action Against Hunger urges immediate access as neglected emergency reaches tipping point
The international humanitarian organisation Action Against Hunger issued an urgent call to action today highlighting life-or-death needs and demanding full humanitarian access to conflict-affected areas of South Sudan, where a newly released report indicates that 40,000 people are facing catastrophe and require immediate assistance. Communities literally caught in the crossfire of protracted civil conflict in Unity, Jonglei and Upper Nile states are out of reach of humanitarian assistance and unable to meet their most basic survival needs. Data from Action Against Hunger’s initial emergency nutrition surveys—and data published this week from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)—indicate Unity State in particular has reached an alarming tipping point. The situation will only get worse unless large-scale, immediate humanitarian action is taken, Action Against Hunger warns.
“Our own preliminary evidence suggests a ‘full-blown’ nutrition emergency in Unity State. But it is absolutely vital that we get full access and ‘air asset support,’ without delay, to other conflict-affected areas in Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile to gather reliable information on humanitarian needs,” said Action Against Hunger USA Chief Executive Andrea Tamburini. “The warning signs are in plain sight. If we fail to mobilise immediately, we will all bear responsibility for a horrific and preventable human tragedy.”
The IPC emergency analysis released this week warns that 2.8 million people in South Sudan face acute food and nutrition insecurity, with 57 per cent of those in hard-to-reach areas of Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile. Populations not directly affected by the conflict have also spiraled into a worsening food crisis in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, and Eastern Equatoria States.
“These are extremely troubling indicators in the post-harvest season, when food is usually less scarce,” said Tamburini. “Malnutrition and food shortages will worsen with the onset of the dry season in April. It is time to take action to prevent massive suffering.”
Even before the announcement from IPC, Action Against Hunger’s rapid surveillance teams had completed emergency nutrition assessments in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Jonglei State, and in two counties in Unity State. Results from Aweil East in Northern Bahr el Ghazal indicate rates of severe acute malnutrition at 7 percent—far exceeding the internationally recognised emergency threshold, and suggesting high rates of mortality among children. Action Against Hunger’s data from Panyijar County in Unity State indicates rates of global acute malnutrition at 21.6 per cent, also far above emergency levels. Results from assessments in Leer County in Unity State are expected in mid March.
Action Against Hunger remains committed to supporting the Government of South Sudan to respond to populations in need, and urges the international community to mobilize funding and diplomacy to pull the country back from the brink.
Action Against Hunger is meeting urgent humanitarian needs of populations in four states of South Sudan: Jonglei, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Central Equatoria (Juba). We are reaching more than 888,000 people with lifesaving emergency food and nutrition programmes, as well as livelihoods and water and sanitation interventions.
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