Extreme hunger risk in South Sudan as fighting blocks food aid: Report

In response to the latest Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) (or food security analysis) for South Sudan, Oxfam South Sudan Country Director, Zlatko Gegic said: “Almost four million people in South Sudan are severely hungry – nearly twice as many compared to this time last year, a clear testament to the devastation caused by 22 months of war. Action is needed now to save lives.

“We hold grave concerns for the estimated 30,000 people experiencing extreme and dangerous hunger levels in war ravaged Unity state, where despite the peace deal fighting continues to cut people off from aid. By December, 10,000 more people are expected to join them. Oxfam is working with communities in Southern Unity, where we have seen appalling conditions first hand. We hear heartbreaking stories of civilians being caught up in a vicious cycle - fleeing their homes and making the treacherous journey to safer locations, only to be faced with starvation as aid organizations are blocked due to the fighting. Many children have arrived alone, their mothers killed in the fighting or during the journey, with nothing but the clothes on their backs, surviving on plant roots and whatever else they can forage."

This report sounds the alarm: "Of extreme concern is the estimated 30,000 people in Unity State who are experiencing Catastrophe (IPC Classification Phase 5 ) and are likely to deteriorate into famine in the absence of urgent and immediate humanitarian access." 

Mr. Gegic continued: “Humanitarians do not have enough funding to respond to this crisis, with the UN appeal for 2015 only 55% funded. Donors must urgently release funding for emergency food aid to save lives and help avert a devastating crisis. After almost two years of fighting, the long term affects of this war have ravaged communities across the country. For the first time in the history of IPC reporting in South Sudan, we are seeing a serious deterioration in food security in the less conflict-affected states of Greater Equatoria. Donors should fund programmes that help people rebuild their lives such as agricultural and fishing support, rehabilitating markets and developing other livelihoods. 

“This unbearable suffering will only end if the peace agreement holds, fighting stops immediately and the long process of reconciliation begins. Oxfam appeals to the warring parties to respect the ceasefire and enable people to reach the help they desperately need. The international community must continue to apply all diplomatic measures that will support the delivery of real, lasting peace.” 

Notes to editors: 

According to this latest IPC food security report summary:

  • Approximately 3.9 million people, including 30,000 classified in Catastrophe, or 34% of the population are severely food and nutrition insecure and are unable to meet their food needs in September. This is an 80% increase compared to the same period last year.
  • By December 2015, at least 2.4 million people (a 60% increase from the same period last year) will continue to face severe food insecurity, the majority of whom are in conflict-ridden Greater Upper Nile. Another 2.6 million people will remain severely food and nutrition insecure in the period just before the start of the lean season (January to March).
  • Sales of livestock and livestock products among pastoralists have increased both in Jonglei and Upper Nile states, a sign of major food insecurity as livestock are traditionally a sign of wealth and not a source of income. For the first time in the IPC history of South Sudan, a large deterioration can be seen in the food security situation in the Greater Equatoria region due to a combination of factors: market disruption, economic downturn, insecurity and localized crop failures.
  • High food prices (up to 150% compared to average) have significantly affected the purchasing power of households across the country, particularly in the Greater Bahr el-Ghazal states as well as in the urban-poor population (30% of whom are in IPC Phase 3 - crisis - and 4 - emergency).
  • The October - December harvest season is expected to greatly improve the food situation as people will have better access to their own production as well as income from their produce sales. However, these gains will be much lower than in 2014, particularly for people in the conflict-affected states.
  • Humanitarian assistance has helped avert major food insecurity in at least five counties; but there’s an urgent need for more and safe access for aid actors to reach people in the worst conflict affected areas.
Contact information: 

Faith Kasina | Media Lead | +211 (0) 955 477 540 | FKasina@oxfam.org.uk

Alison Martin | Advocacy and Campaigns Manager | +211 (0) 955 955 957 | AMartin@oxfam.org.uk

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