South Sudan is right now in the grip of a food crisis that threatens millions of lives. The UN and South Sudan government have declared famine in two counties of Unity state in the north of the country, and it’s feared that as many as five million people will struggle to have enough to eat by July. In Northern Bahr el Ghazal, one of the country’s most vulnerable areas, 59% of the population is already facing crisis- or emergency-level food shortages.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization characterized South Sudan’s food struggles as “unprecedented,” as 40% of the country’s population is in urgent need of assistance.
The inconsistent and unreliable access to food has caused malnutrition rates to skyrocket. UNICEF predicts that this year more than a quarter of a million children will be affected by severe acute malnutrition — the most extreme and life-threatening form of hunger.
The country already had few health facilities, but renewed violence and displacement has forced many of them to close. For those that remain open, there is simply not enough money for basic medicines and staff. Families struggle to reach the nearest open clinic, especially during the rainy season when the ground turns to swamp and many areas are cut off entirely.
Without help, thousands of South Sudanese people could die in the months ahead.
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