South Sudan: Malteser International warns of renewed famine
Millions of people displaced by hunger and violence – humanitarian aid alone is not enough
On the fourth anniversary of the independence of South Sudan, Malteser International – the Order of Malta worldwide relief agency – is giving an urgent warning against renewed famine in the country and calling on all those who carry responsibility to work consistently for a resolution of the violent conflict. Because of the civil war, fields cannot be planted and crops cannot be gathered. Since 9th July 2011 – the date of its independence – South Sudan has been not only the youngest country in the world, but also one of the most unstable. Independence was supposed to bring peace to the country, but since December 2013, the population has suffered under a renewed, and bloody, civil war.
“The root causes of the great need of the South Sudanese population lie essentially in many years of violent conflict, grounded on ethnic rivalries,” explains Sid Johann Peruvemba – Program Director of Malteser International. “As long as truces are not respected and observed, and conflict parties are not disarmed and brought to the negotiation table, local people are going to have to keep on living through enormous suffering.” On top of this comes the fact that violence and conflict in the country often poses a threat to humanitarian relief, making it difficult for aid workers to gain access to affected populations. “In order to break the constant cycle of hunger, violence and need, we urgently need peace initiatives at all levels, as well as the extra funding to build up the necessary aid measures,” said Peruvemba.
Because of the unceasing fighting, the price of grain and other staple foods has risen rapidly. This presents a serious problem especially for families that have taken on displaced people from other parts of the country. The confrontations and violence have placed the lives of around 11 million people in massive danger. According to estimates from the United Nations, by the end of July, 4.6 million people – or around 40% of the population –will be in acute danger of hunger. One million of them are in serious danger of losing their lives. More than 2 million South Sudanese people have been forced to leave their homes and villages in the face of violence and hunger, and flee to other regions or neighboring countries.
Malteser International has been working for an improved level of medical care for the population of South Sudan since 1996. This effort has also encompassed efforts in the key preventative areas of food security and water supply, upon which good health is heavily dependent.
Photos © Malteser International