South Sudan: ceasefire a pivotal moment, but 2.5 million still facing severe hunger

By CARE Australia February 4, 2015 0 comments

“You asked me where my husband is. He is in Juba, with another wife. If I depend on my husband, my children will have nothing to eat.” - Nyanweng Photo: Josh Estey/CARE

CARE has welcomed the signing of the ceasefire between government and opposition forces in South Sudan, saying it is a pivotal moment that must be ceased for the people of the world’s youngest nation.

The ceasefire, signed in Ethiopia on Sunday, commits both parties to ending a conflict that has wreaked havoc since December 2013.

However, the news comes as a new report details that nearly a quarter of the entire population of South Sudan – around 2.5 million people – will be living in severe hunger in the next three months, according to figures from the most recent Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) Survey, the key tool for monitoring the status of the food crisis. The IPC predicts nutrition will remain critical in South Sudan, with as much as 80 per cent of the population in some parts of the country unable to cultivate crops.

The efforts of aid organisations like CARE combined with the resilience of the South Sudanese averted serious hunger in 2014. But with little harvest and seriously depleted food stocks in some parts of South Sudan, the country is now more vulnerable to food crisis than ever before. Much will depend on the delivery of planned international support, particularly in South Sudan’s conflict-affected states of Jonglei and Unity.

“This is a critical moment in the history of a country devastated by war. The international community needs to get behind the peace process, as if communities in South Sudan are further isolated by more fighting, the results could be catastrophic,” said Aimee Ansari, CARE’s country director in South Sudan.

“CARE is doing all it can to help these communities but what South Sudan desperately needs is peace. While we welcome the ceasefire, we look forward to seeing a comprehensive settlement at the next round of peace talks later this month, so people can finally start rebuilding their lives.”

Food stocks in some communities remain critically low. A recent CARE-led assessment in Duk County, in the South Sudanese state of Jonglei estimated that local food stocks will run out at the start of February.

“People are doing whatever they can in a bid to stave off hunger,” said Mujahid Hussain, CARE’s state coordinator for Jonglei. “They’re selling what few assets they have to buy food. In some communities people are resorting to traditional food; eating water lilies or wild fruits, or surviving on wild animals.”

Since the outbreak of violence in December 2013, an estimated 1.5 million people have been displaced from their homes and communities, and an estimated 450,000 people have crossed into neighbouring Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda in search of food and to escape violence.

In 2014, CARE assisted more than 570,000 South Sudanese affected by the conflict. CARE is providing emergency water, sanitation, hygiene services and education, in addition to nutrition and livelihoods assistance. CARE also supports over 40 health facilities in Unity and Upper Nile States, providing life-saving support to women giving birth and to those injured by the conflict in two of the states most heavily affected by fighting.

Learn more or donate to CARE’s work in South Sudan. $100 can give life-saving vaccinations, and $144 can feed three starving children.

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