Amidst the beginning of the fifth year of the country’s civil war, millions of people in South Sudan continue to suffer the effects of a “Never-Ending Hunger Season” that has caused widespread malnutrition and brought the nation to the brink of famine once again, spurring a humanitarian crisis, needing to be urgently addressed before more lives are lost.
The impending famine and humanitarian crisis has been products of the civil war which only exacerbated this disaster and increased the difficulty of feeding the state. The socio-economic crisis that arose as a result of this conflict was seen in hyperinflation that rendered the local currency worthless, increasing the hardships of buying food for most of the population. A single meal can now cost up to $320, which is roughly 155% of the average worker’s daily income.
Since the battle began, more than two million people have fled the country as refugees, while another estimated two million have fled their homes to other parts of the nation, leaving countless industries without labourers – particularly those dealing with agriculture – thereby straining food production and ultimately crippling the state further. The civil war has also increased the difficulties of distributing food aid across South Sudan, due to the frequent kidnappings and deaths of aid workers by both rebel groups and government forces alike. Additionally, around 100 of them have been killed – 30 of them in the last year alone – and those travelling in aid convoys have been abducted three times in just the past six months.
The culmination of these issues has created a severe hunger crisis which has already turned into a famine once before in two regions within the country last year. A United Nations report, published earlier this year, estimated that 150 000 people could suffer its effects in 2018, and Oxfam has reported that famine is imminent. Already hundreds of children who suffer from malnutrition are being brought to hospitals across the state and although many are currently being treated, at this rate, multiple medical centres will not be able to cope with the strain, according to Al Sabbah Hospital’s head nutritionist Josephin Ruben.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but not two years later descended into a devastating civil war when the nation’s president turned against his then vice-president and cabinet – an event which served as the catalyst that plunged the country into conflict. Ceasefires and attempts at peace talks have so far been proven unsuccessful and the battle has claimed the lives of thousands, affecting all living there.
Unless urgent disaster relief is provided, South Sudan’s population will unnecessarily continue to suffer the effects of the civil war, and the country at large is imminently vulnerable to a nation-wide famine if adequate food aid and health services are not made available.
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