Again Famine Threatens South Sudan

The United Nations declared the threat of famine in four regions of South Sudan. This declaration comes less than a year after international aid stopped famine in the region last June.

A recent report released by the UN and South Sudan’s government estimates more than six million people to be at risk, a 40 percent rise since 2017. This is important as the country is facing some of the worst humanitarian crisis’ in the world. Four years of civil warfare has left half the population at threat of starvation, genocide, child war crimes, and more. Now the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) reports 150,000 people could be hit with famine in the rising humanitarian crisis by May. Ross Smith, senior program officer to the U.N. WFP released a statement saying South Sudan faces “unprecedented levels of food insecurity.”  

The threat of famine is horrific for any country, but the political turmoil in South Sudan exasperates the situation. South Sudan has the role of being the world’s youngest state, and because of this the most likely to fail. Both officials within the country and the international community have a role in the political crisis. In 2011, the United States gave billions of dollars in aid to help broker a deal for an independent South Sudan. This came after Christian groups in the United States perceived the civil war between North and South Sudan as a fight between the “Muslim oppressors” and the “oppressed Christian.” Two years later, the newly independent South Sudan unraveled into ethnic warfare that continues to ravage the country today. Furthermore, Alice Luedke, researcher at Amnesty International, found human rights issues were ongoing, including “blocking of civilian access to food by both the government and opposition forces.”

President Salva Kiir has given aid groups unrestricted access to the country and the United Nations has embarked on an action plan for South Sudan. However, since the start of 2018, only 4 percent of the aid funding was met and a gap of 1.7 billion dollars of funding has yet to be raised. The lack of aid funding and the current dry season has exacerbated the situation. Aid workers warn that if the political turmoil persists, food aid will not be enough to stop the famine and large-scale assistance will then be required.