The situation in South Sudan is dire; women, men, children and the elderly are on the verge of starvation.
If it’s not through gunshot wounds, injuries from crude weapons will kill many in the country. For those who survive the attacks including rape, they risk starving to death.
It is estimated that 1.25 million people are on the brink of starvation. Almost twice as many people are one step away from famine, the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification released by the Government of South Sudan and food security partners says.
Coupled with inadequate rainfall, and renewed clashes, Equatoria region, the once flourishing and foodbasket of the nation is slowly slipping to hunger.
“It’s the worst humanitarian situation I’ve seen,” John Okoboi, a nutritionist working with the South Sudan Health Association, one of the few local groups operating in Lainya, is quoted as saying.
In July 2016, renewed clashes began in the Capital Juba forcing more than a million people to flee creating the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis, according to the United Nations.
Suffering faced by civilians is as a result of actions of the parties involved in the war. Civilian movement has been restricted, making it difficult for residents to cultivate on their farms. Furthermore, locals in Yei and Lainya towns accuse the government of taking their food and denying them access to their fields, the Guardian reports.
“The impact of conflict on agricultural production is particularly severe in the Greater Equatorias, which was typically a surplus-food producing area before the conflict, but is now seeing production deficits due to insecurity and related access challenges,” reads the report.
It is reported that most of the farmers inhabiting the productive area along the border with Uganda, are now in refugee camps inside Uganda.
Besides hunger, it has also become difficult for humanitarian workers to deliver aid in some affected areas. Humanitarian organizations have been forced to relocate up to 500 workers for extended periods due to conflict and insecurity. 123 aid workers have lost their loves in line of duty since the conflict started.
Talks are yet to yield fruits. Humanitarian organizations have called upon the concerned parties to:
- respect and protect civilians, including humanitarian workers; and,
- allow and facilitate humanitarian relief operations and people's access to assistance and protection.
Image: Care/Lucy Beck