The International Rescue Committee (IRC), is calling for international financial support to prevent famine across large swathes of South Sudan in the face of economic crisis, devastating floods, mass displacement and COVID-19.
With more than 60 percent of the South Sudanese population facing food insecurity, the IRC is “extremely concerned” that more than seven million people are being pushed into hunger by what it describes as “a perfect storm of crises”.
Nearly one million people have been displaced or isolated for months by the worst flooding in memory, in a country already wracked by violence and struggling to maintain a fragile peace following years of civil war.
The floods from the 2020 rainy season appear set to be even worse than the unprecedented flooding of 2019.
Caroline Sekyewa, South Sudan country director at the IRC, estimates that 11,000 people are already experiencing famine, with 1.7 million people “battling emergency levels of hunger across 35 counties".
According to the IRC, the areas of greatest concern are concentrated in Jonglei, Unity, Lakes, Warrap, and Upper Nile, while The Associated Press has reported people walking for hours in chest-deep water to find food and health care as malaria and diarrhoeal diseases spread.
Sekyewa adds that COVID-19 is further exacerbating the country’s existing health crises, with more than half the population having no access to primary health services. Furthermore, the economic downturn and drops in oil prices brought on by the pandemic is constraining the ability of South Sudan’s new government to implement the peace deal brokered in 2018.
“The IRC calls on more support and funding for people in South Sudan as food insecurity threatens lives,” says Sekyewa.