Thousands At Risk As World Food Programme Forced To Cut Aid To South Sudan

As media and public attention have turned towards Ukraine, humanitarian resources, regrettably finite, have followed suit. With funding for other causes dwindling, the U.N.’s World Food Programme (W.F.P.) has been forced to cut food aid to South Sudan. In various statements this week, the organization said it will be suspending food aid to 1.7 million South Sudanese people at a particularly precarious time for malnutrition and poverty in the country. According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, 7.74 million people in South Sudan are expected to face acute food insecurity over the course of the month unless immediate action is taken.

“We had to decide who to keep assisting and who we can afford to suspend the assistance from – not because they’re not in need but because they can survive,” said Marwa Awad, W.F.P. spokesperson in South Sudan.

Despite its abundant oil reserves, South Sudan’s current reality is the antithesis to the jubilant social and economic projections made for its development and stability when it obtained independence from Sudan in 2011. Death and suffering have plagued the nation, and a brutal internal conflict has displaced some 200,000 South Sudanese within its borders, along with widespread cases of rape, beheadings, torture, and more. The independent U.N. peacekeeping mission established for South Sudan in 2011 has been present ever since.

In addition to the civil instability, soaring inflation has wreaked havoc on the country’s economy, and the effects of climate change – namely, massive-scale flooding – have decimated South Sudan’s population, self-sufficiency, and capacity for economic growth. According to the U.N., one million people fled their homes in 2021 due to flooding alone.

This worsening humanitarian picture on the ground has also made public health resilience a very real concern. Authorities fear that an outbreak of cholera or other diseases could devastate South Sudan’s vulnerable population.

South Sudan is heavily reliant on international peacekeeping for its security and humanitarian aid for its food and medicine. All of this makes the humanitarian aid cuts all the more concerning.

The W.F.P. requires $426 million to meet the shortfall preventing it from aiding South Sudan. Without this aid, almost a third of the country’s population will be affected and may be forced to resort to survival starvation measures. Plan International, Save the Children, UNICEF, and World Vision reported that three million South Sudanese children under the age of five already suffer from acute malnutrition. About 375,000 could die this year without treatment, the groups warned. Urgent action is needed now.

If you wish to donate to the W.F.P., you can do so through the programme’s website.

Juan Quintero