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South Sudan at risk of worst hunger crisis since 1980s


JUBA, South Sudan (April 16, 2014) — Without urgent funding in the next few weeks, seven million children and families in South Sudan will be at risk of starvation.

Intensified fighting, funding shortfalls, and a lack of access for agencies to those most in need, have created an impending disaster that threatens to crush an entire generation.

In the midst of this nightmare, children across the country are struggling to find scarce food and shelter.

An eight-year-old boy living in Upper Nile State told World Vision: “We walked five days to escape the fighting in Malakal. Now we are living in a deserted school with no idea where to get food from.”

“A catastrophic humanitarian crisis is threatening the world’s newest country. 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, senior director of emergency response at World Vision.

World Vision warns that action must be taken before the planting season shortly ends, to avert what the UN has referred to as the biggest food security threat to the region since the 1980s.

“We need to prevent the shattering of hopes and dreams of South Sudan’s future generation. Over half the population are children and it is they who will disproportionately feel the impact of lack of food, school and the means to live,” said Johan Eldebo, a World Vision senior humanitarian policy advisor.

He continued: “It was not supposed to be like this. 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. The international community needs to step up now before it’s too late to protect the needs and safety of these children.”

Aid agencies and the UN have been scaling up the humanitarian response in South Sudan for months, but they warn the needs are vastly outpacing the ability to meet them. The conflict has disrupted the lives of everyone in South Sudan. Over a million people are displaced — more than 800,000 within South Sudan and more than 200,000 seeking safety in neighboring countries. In some areas, markets are destroyed, businesses are closed, and salaries are suspended.

Increased fighting has made getting access to those most in need even more difficult.

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World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. For more information, visit www.WorldVision.org/press or follow us on Twitter @WorldVisionNews.