It’s hard to overstate just how devastated this country is. Brutal conflict, extreme weather and economic crisis have ripped through South Sudan. As ever, kids are suffering most.
Famine has been declared in one state, Unity State, but other places in the country will be just a step away if we don’t dramatically scale up our response.
Famine is not a term that UNICEF takes lightly and it’s not every day that it is announced. When it is, it means that people are already dying of hunger. This is a man-made catastrophe that has left 100,000 people facing starvation in parts of South Sudan, including 20,000 children.
“These are all crazy numbers but each wears the face of a person trying to make a go of it.”
I cannot overstate the incredible strength and fortitude shown by everyday South Sudanese in horrendous circumstances. Indeed, far from being victims, the people of South Sudan have done absolutely everything to avoid catastrophe, and to protect their children. But they have exhausted their options. And they need help in navigating this hellish crisis.
We’ve seen homes burnt to the ground and families fleeing over hundreds of kilometres just for clean water, food and safety. Children have no choice but to eat ‘famine foods’ like grass and water lilies to try and survive. There is barely a village I have visited where someone does not have a ghastly story to tell; one of violence, often rape, losing their home, escaping, and a relentless fight for survival.