South Sudan conflict: Children face starvation and disease as fighting continues

Since December, armed conflict has killed thousands and driven more than 950,000 South Sudanese from their homes. World Vision is working to meet the needs of displaced children and families.

By Holly Frew, World Vision U.S.
Updated April 17, 2014 at 09:00am PDT

Across South Sudan, children are struggling to find food and shelter, World Vision officials say.

Displaced families face bleak future

An 8-year-old boy said he walked for five days to escape warring factions in Malakal, just north of the South Sudanese capital of Juba. “Now we are living in a deserted school with no idea where to get food from,” he told World Vision.

World Vision is helping thousands of people displaced within South Sudan, as well as refugees who have fled into western Uganda and northwestern Kenya.

“These children were supposed to grow up in the new bright hope of newly created South Sudan. Now they face a bleak future unless urgent action is taken,” says Johan Eldebo, a World Vision senior humanitarian policy adviser.


Since December, armed conflict has killed thousands and driven more than 950,000 South Sudanese from their homes. The people face starvation and disease in the coming months if violence keeps displaced families from returning home to plant their crops. The majority of people in South Sudan rely on smallholder farming for survival.

The impending rainy season is only going to make matters worse, aid workers claim.

‘Extreme exhaustion’

Nyamuot Puor, 30, a pregnant mother, said she experienced heartache, panic, and terror as she raced on foot while she carried her 4-year-old son from her besieged village.

“My 40-year-old husband and many others were killed,” she says.

Nyamuot, who was seven months pregnant, and her child traveled for days in scorching heat until they reached a designated safe camp in South Sudan.

She says, “I haven’t had food to eat and any shelter to sleep to recover from extreme exhaustion.”

World Vision’s response

Aid agencies and the United Nations have been scaling up the humanitarian response in South Sudan for months, but officials warn the needs are vastly outpacing the ability to meet them.

The U.N. humanitarian appeal for South Sudan is more than $1 billion short of its $1.27 billion target, according to Reuters.

“As violence rages on, leaving millions of people displaced and at risk of starving to death, years of work toward peace and stability hangs in the balance,” said Chris Palusky, director of emergency response with World Vision U.S.

World Vision provided survival kits to help hundreds of families settle into Kakuma camp. A survival kit includes tents, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen utensils, sanitary towels, mosquito nets, toilet paper, water purification liquid, soap, and other items.

Since January 14, World Vision has provided nearly 9,000 new arrivals with weekly food provisions, including sorghum, yellow split peas, corn-soy flour, vegetable oil, and salt.

Along with the World Food Program, World Vision aid workers also have helped 65,000 residents with monthly food packets.

Additional reporting by World Vision’s Tessema Eredie, Michael Arunga, Lucy Murunga, and World Vision U.S.’s Chris Huber.

Learn more

Two ways you can help

  • Pray for children and families affected by the fighting in South Sudan. Pray that the peace process would bring a permanent end to the hostilities and that humanitarian organizations like World Vision would be able to meet the needs of displaced people. Check out our South Sudan prayer guide at World Vision magazine.
  • Make a one-time donation to help meet the needs of vulnerable children and families in South Sudan. Your gift will help provide basic food and nutrition supplies, as well as healthcare, clean water, shelter, and protection interventions for families in need.

Highlights

  • Fighting broke out on December 15. Armed conflict has killed thousands and displaced more than 950,000 South Sudanese from their homes.
  • Displaced families face starvation and disease in the coming months if violence keeps them from returning home to plant their crops.
  • World Vision is helping thousands of people displaced within South Sudan, as well as refugees who have fled to western Uganda and northwestern Kenya.

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