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Deadly clashes and floods have interrupted the nation’s main harvests. World Vision is operating nutrition programs for malnourished children in northern South Sudan.
Malnutrition is escalating in conflict-torn South Sudan, the United Nations warns.
About 1.25 million children under the age of 5 are threatened by malnutrition and are in dire need of emergency nutrition services between now and June.
Conflict flared up between government and opposition forces in December, killing thousands in South Sudan and displacing more than 716,000 people within the oil-rich region. Another 156,000 people have fled to the neighboring African nations of Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia.
These deadly clashes have interrupted the nation’s main harvests of sorghum, corn, and groundnut and severed food supply lines to areas already weakened by food insecurity.
Violence forced families to flee without their harvested crops, much of which was eventually destroyed or looted, the Famine Early Warning System Network reports. Floods last fall also took away months of potential food stocks, hampering people’s livelihoods.
An estimated 78 percent of people in rural South Sudan rely on farming for income, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Two-year-old Lual Akol’s family is among them. They were desperately low on food and money, and the toddler needed something to eat.
“We didn’t harvest anything this year,” Lual’s mother, Awich, said in November, a month before the fighting escalated. “I have been selling firewood in Kuajok town to earn some cash, which I use to buy food.”
World Vision is operating nutrition programs for malnourished children in northern South Sudan. There, Lual received a supply of Plumpy’Nut®, a nutrient-rich, peanut-based paste, which aid workers say helped restore his health.
“It will be difficult for Lual’s mother to find food to buy in the local market even if she had any money,” says Abraham Nhial Wei, a World Vision staff member in South Sudan. World Vision has helped at least 36,000 children like Lual.
The agency also has provided more than 30,000 people with food rations and household supplies in Upper Nile state and food and survival kits in Kakuma refugee camp northwestern Kenya, near the border with South Sudan.
The international community, including the United States, is pressing for peace talks in South Sudan to resume. There has been no word on when that will be.