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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Millions bordering on mass starvation in South Sudan

Three-quarter of a million children under the age of five face severe malnutrition in the war-torn African nation.

The United Nations Children's Fund [UNICEF] is issuing a warning over the situation in South Sudan, where 3.7 million people face acute malnutrition; they assert that - without action - approximately 750,000 children five years of age and younger are threatened with starvation, with tens of thousands dying by the end of the year.

The situation is exacerbated by the arrival of planting season, which is being interrupted by the brutal civil conflict taking place in the world's newest nation; UNICEF officials note that if the fighting does not abate soon planters will be unable to tend to their fields, which will escalate the humanitarian crisis to unprecedented levels.

South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan early in 2011, and has been in near-perpetual conflict ever since, with multiple ethnic factions attacking others, often without provocation; the recent massacre of hundreds of civilians in Bentiu has caused spoken concerns from agencies like UNICEF to become full-fledged cries of alarm, with little prospect of relief in sight.

The South Sudanese people not only face the dangers of starvation resulting from this conflict, but also the potential for viral outbreaks; with nearly a million individuals displaced, the inadequate levels of food and fresh water - combined with minimal care facilities and poor sanitation conditions - is often a perfect recipe for infectious diseases, giving humanitarian groups another justification for calling this a catastrophe in the making.

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