One month since famine was declared in two areas of South Sudan, it is a race against the forthcoming rains to save lives Oxfam warned today.
The annual rainy season, which starts in April or May, will make conditions even more difficult for the people in need of help and the aid agencies trying to reach them. Flooding makes roads and airstrips impassable, communities sheltering from the conflict on islands even more isolated, and causes a rise in cholera and other water-borne diseases.
Oxfam is calling for more funding to help reach those in need before to is too late.
Sara Almer, Country Director for Oxfam in South Sudan said, “The people of South Sudan are doing all they can to support their families and their neighbors, but it’s a daily struggle for survival. Fighting has forced millions of people to leave their homes, livestock, and belongings behind. Other communities have generously welcomed them, sharing what little they have. But they need more support now as the window to save lives is closing.
“Once the rains begin, it is even more difficult to reach isolated communities. It’s hard to keep water sources clean and cases of cholera and diarrhea will needlessly take even more lives. The rainy season is difficult under any circumstances, but this year will likely be worse, as so many people are already malnourished, away from their homes and have fewer resources to withstand this demanding time.”
Ongoing conflict has left 7.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, and half the country’s population are expected to be affected by extreme hunger by July, if they don’t receive help now.
Almer said, “Ultimately what the people of South Sudan need is an end to the conflict. Until then, humanitarian organizations need support and safe access to communities in order to continue providing life-saving aid and longer-term assistance. The response from the public has been extremely generous and is saving lives every day, but hunger and the impending rains present a deadly combination and aid agencies needs those funds right now. Lives depend on it”.
Oxfam is distributing food to over 415,000 people as well as providing over 140,000 people with clean water and sanitation which are equally important to keep people healthy and famine at bay.