Lily Donaldson is a London-born supermodel famous for her campaigns for Gucci, Victoria’s Secret and Burberry, to name just a few. She has appeared on the cover of all the top fashion magazines, including Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire and Harper’s Bazaar. But the campaign that has a special place in her heart is one far away from the spotlight. This spring, she visited South Sudan to bring hope to those who suffer and to draw the world’s attention to the humanitarian crisis in the country. Supermodel Lily Donaldson is working together with The International Medical Corps, helping both in the field and as an ambassador.

Because of the four-year-long conflict, there are over 20 million people affected by drought and hunger in South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia, with children the most vulnerable. Lily Donaldson saw firsthand the suffering in South Sudan, where 100,000 people are struggling to get just one meal. They do not know when, where and if they are going to eat that day. They need immediate help to get food, shelter and medical supplies.

The International Medical Corps has been working directly in the field since the mid-1990s, but the crisis escalated in 2013, two years after a national referendum in 2011, when South Sudan became independent. Tensions escalated into an armed conflict, and thousands of lives were lost before the formal peace agreement in the summer of 2015. A large number of people are still affected by displacement, hunger and lack of medical care.

Supermodel Lily Donaldson is working with The International Medical Corps to help the most vulnerable populations, mothers and their children, affected by the civil war in South Sudan. The country has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, and a famine was officially declared in two parts of the country.

During her stay in South Sudan, Lily visited a women’s group that provides help for the survivors of abuse and joined a mother support group. This group brings together mothers to teach them how to prevent their children from becoming malnourished and allows women to connect with each other for support.

In Juba, she spent some time with malnourished and sick children. In the capital’s hospital, the teams of The International Medical Corps are providing day and night care so that every child gets the necessary treatment and can go home to their parents healthy.

Working with The International Medical Corps has become a way of life for a supermodel Lily Donaldson. But she is not the only one. Anna Wintour, Robert Pattinson and Avery Williamson, along with many others, are their global ambassadors. They are all trying to help through healthcare training and development programs in the field, but also by bringing awareness to the people all over the world that every single one of us can and should get involved.

Lily Donaldson’s Twitter page has more about her work with The International Medical Corps, where she has a message to share: “We have the power to save lives!”

There are many ways to help, whether by donating, sharing on social media channels, or even volunteering in the field. There is a way for all of us to help, to bring hope and a message to people affected by war and hunger that they are never alone.

Edita Jakupovic

Photo: Flickr

South Sudan AidSince South Sudan became independent in 2011, they have been facing a humanitarian crisis. This is partly due to displacement from conflicts and refugees from the north pouring in, depleting any resources South Sudan had to support that many people. Poverty, lingering effects from the conflict with Sudan and continued tension with Sudan make South Sudan aid, both in food and non-food aid, vital.

Throughout the crisis in South Sudan, the total USAID and state emergency funding in FY 2017 is a total of $728,685,903. The United States is the largest humanitarian donor to South Sudan. That funding may no longer exist as Mark Green, administrator for the U.S. agency of international development, threatened to cut USAID to South Sudan due to the chaos that is currently taking place there.

Green is considering ending South Sudan aid due to human rights violations and violence that are occurring in the country. In Green’s opinion, South Sudan has become too dangerous for humanitarian workers to bring aid to the country.

Green is also considering the removal of aid because he believes that this growing crisis, with six million people facing life-threatening hunger, is man-made and something that the president of South Sudan, Salva Kirr, can solve.

UNICEF said that there are more than 1 million children in South Sudan who are malnourished and are likely to die without intervention. American food donations to South Sudan are said to reach 1.8 million people each month, saving many lives, and if the United States cuts funding, those 1.8 million people will no longer receive that food. It is nearly impossible to match the money that the United States has been giving to South Sudan, so if they do cut the funding, it is highly unlikely that South Sudan will find anyone else to fund them in their place.

In the meantime, there are still many ways that individual American citizens can help the people of South Sudan. UNICEF is accepting monetary donations towards relief efforts. The International Rescue Committee has a strategy action plan for South Sudan through 2020 that aims to create economic wellbeing, safety and health improvements in the country. The UNHR is collecting monetary donations for the people of South Sudan as well.

If South Sudan aid really does get cut, it will make these organizations and any others looking to help with the humanitarian crisis more important than ever.

Téa Franco

Photo: Flickr

Southern Sudan Healthcare OrganizationJacob Atem and Lual Deng Awan, two Sudanese refugees now living in the U.S., have established a nonprofit healthcare organization to give impoverished people in South Sudan access to proper medical treatment. The Southern Sudan Healthcare Organization (SSHCO) opened its first clinic in Maar, Sudan in 2008 and it now aims to build more clinics.

Maar, Sudan is an especially significant location for Atem and Awan because it is the town where they once lived before the Second Sudanese Civil War struck in 1983. During this war, 20,000 Sudanese children – including Atem and Awan – were left on their own after their family members were killed or kidnapped in the conflict. They were known as “The Lost Boys of Sudan.” These children attempted to make a treacherous 1,000-mile journey on foot to reach Ethiopia as refugees. Thousands of boys died on the journey, and Ethiopia did not prove to be a good choice for resettlement. In 1991, war in Ethiopia forced the boys to escape to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. At this refugee camp, the U.S. State Department selected some of the boys for resettlement in the United States. Both Atem and Awan were brought to Michigan and taken in by foster families. In the United States, they went on to attend high school and pursue higher education.

The clinic in Maar provides up-to-date basic healthcare services to patients, while the organization as a whole provides funding to South Sudanese individuals who want to pursue a career in the medical field. The clinic has proved to be invaluable for the inhabitants of Maar, since the village is in a very isolated location. Before the arrival of the SSHCO, the closest clinics to the villagers were about a three day journey away. The Maar Clinic sees up to 3,000 patients monthly. Out of the patients the clinic sees, 80 percent have malaria and 50 percent are under five years old. Around 10 women come in every month to give birth, and 60 percent of the children it sees have some kind of diarrheal disease.

Currently, the SSHCO is working with the Sudanese government to build additional clinics and improve vaccination rates in Sudan. Although Atem and Awan undoubtedly suffered a lot in their early life, they persevered, and have now made it their life purpose to bring hope and health to the people in their home country.

Anna Gargiulo

Photo: Google

Causes of Poverty in South Sudan
Ravaged by civil war for nearly 50 years, the once unified countries of Sudan and South Sudan were left devastated with dilapidated economies. The brutal civil war ensued when Sudan was freed from British control after being a colony for nearly 60 years. Poverty in the country is a multi-sided issue that is not simply defined by a statistic that reflects the number of citizens living at or below the poverty line. Literacy, health care and food security are all causes of poverty in South Sudan.

Seventy-three percent of adults are illiterate, including 84% of all women. Without access to educational resources, the people of South Sudan will continually live in a cycle of poverty. These illiteracy rates fuel the major unemployment situation. With an unemployment rate sitting at 12%, the lack of employed citizens continues to be one of the major causes of poverty in South Sudan.

South Sudan is a vast landlocked country but the population suffers from a lack of developed cities. Eighty-three percent of the 11 million people in South Sudan reside in rural areas without access to many basic necessities. Eighty percent of the population lives on or at $1 a day in part because they live away from cities. Without that access to employment and career resources, the South Sudanese are hindered from aiding their country and themselves.

Eradicating poverty requires a healthy and vaccinated population, something that South Sudan does not have. Lack of healthcare has been a cause of poverty in South Sudan and will continue to be until certain precautions are taken. With only 17% of children fully immunized, the population is severely disabled when it comes to combating diseases. This causes poverty, as a dilapidated population cannot sustain itself.

In addition, clean water has become a luxury when it should be treated as a necessity. Fifty-five percent of the population has access to safe water. This problem is consistent across much of Africa but South Sudan especially struggles. Thirty-eight percent of the population has to travel over 30 minutes to reach access to clean water.

The causes of poverty in South Sudan repressed growth and development in the third world country. The civil war the country endured set the stage for poverty. It will require aid and assistance to bring this country stability.

Sophie Casimes

Photo: Flickr

Women in South Sudan
Women in South Sudan are facing alarming human rights abuses. The ongoing conflict has claimed many lives and displaced about two million people. Women have suffered disproportionately, being subjected to horrific gender-based violence. Despite the grim realities women in South Sudan face, humanitarian organizations such as the UNDP and IMO, along with the U.S. government, are working to empower women in South Sudan.

With an estimated 475,000 women and girls at risk of harm and more than half of young women aged 15-24 years having already experienced some form of gender-based violence, it is crucial that humanitarian organizations intervene. Women and girls face many different cases of abuse, ranging from beatings and rape to forced marriage and labor. The trauma the survivors are left with affects both their mental and physical health, with many becoming HIV positive after their endurance of sexual violence.

To combat the effects of these cruelties, the UNDP and IMO are working to help women heal through counseling and support groups where they can safely discuss their experiences and feelings. Working in displacement camps, these programs have moved many women from isolation and depression to a place of hope and healing. The work does not stop there.

The goal of these support programs goes beyond healing and into the idea of empowerment, challenging traditional cultural beliefs surrounding the role of women in South Sudan. These programs work to empower women by educating them on their rights and enabling them to take on leadership roles. One way these groups are able to do this is through dramas and musical events put on by the community. These performances highlight the importance of women as peace-builders and show how they can stand up against gender-based violence.

From these programs women in South Sudan have emerged as active community leaders, promoting peace and providing role models for incoming refugees. Many of the leading counselors in these programs are women who once faced abuse and isolated themselves, demonstrating the growth that can come from support.

In the U.S., Representative Sheila Lee is working to protect the future of these women by sponsoring the Equal Rights and Access for the Women of South Sudan Act (H.R. 48). This act, which has just been introduced to the House of Representatives, supports refugee relief that encourages women’s rights. It also focuses on the complete inclusion of women in post-conflict reconstruction and development, planning a future based on empowering women in South Sudan.

With 13 cosponsors, the potential of this act is promising. However, the work of humanitarian organizations remains essential to the recovery and success of these women. While the UNDP and IMO are working to empower women in South Sudan now, this act preparing for a future in which these women can thrive.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Google

Common Diseases in South SudanThe people of South Sudan are currently dealing with a long list of hardships. In addition to living in a civil war, they also suffer from high rates of poverty. Due to the environment that they live in, the South Sudanese are victims to both violence and food shortage. Another complication is the threat of many different common diseases in South Sudan.

Visceral leishmaniasis, also called kala-azar, travels through a sandfly’s bite. The disease swells the spleen and liver, damaging the two organs. It is crucial to seek medical help as soon as possible because this disease can be fatal if not treated properly. In 2016, 42 individuals died from kala-azar, though that includes only reported deaths.

Measles is another of the more common diseases in South Sudan. In the first five months of this year, there have been 573 suspected cases. Measles is very contagious: a sick individual could spread the disease with a single cough.

The living conditions of the country mean these diseases leave a significant impact on the South Sudanese. Some areas in South Sudan are immune to visceral leishmaniasis. Unfortunately, their immunity is useless due to the amount of stress the South Sudanese live in. As a result, the disease continues to spread. According to the WHO, people are more vulnerable to diseases if they are placed in conflict situations.

Not only are many South Sudanese unable to afford food, but some also live in areas that are suffering from famine. Due to this food shortage, they are malnourished. The consequential lack of nutrients makes them even more susceptible to diseases.

With measles vaccination campaigns going around the country, there are several efforts to fight these common diseases in South Sudan. Groups such as the WHO are working toward providing the people of South Sudan the health care that they need.

Raven Rentas

Photo: Flickr

South Sudanese Women
Since late 2013, South Sudan, the world’s youngest sovereign state, has been enduring a civil war. Conflict along ethnic lines has forced a quarter of the population to relocate. In addition, the violence adversely and disproportionately affects South Sudanese women. While problems persist on unprecedented levels, several government organizations and NGOs have been working to provide aid to the women of South Sudan.

4 Issues South Sudanese Women Face Every Day

1. Women and girls are forced into the sex trade to survive.

South Sudanese women as young as 12 or 14 have been surviving as prostitutes. Many work in the Gumbo, a run-down area near the capital city of Juba. Many of these women are HIV-positive. However, they earn less than one dollar per client.

Doing something about it: Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC)

CCC provides a safe place for South Sudanese children in the hope that they can achieve stability. Founder Cathy Groenendijk and a team of social workers, psychologists and nurses run a children’s shelter in Juba. CCC acts as a refuge for dozens of children, particularly girls. Partnered with organizations like the European Union (EU) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), CCC accommodates 40 children at once and pays the tuition fees for 600 children to attend school, keeping girls out of the sex trade.

2.  Survivors of sexual assault have no access to mental health resources.

In a 2016 United Nations (UN) independent commission report, 70 percent of South Sudanese women in Juba suffered some form of sexual assault by the end of 2013. Additionally, the same report found that survivors had barely any resources to help their physical or mental recovery from the assault.

Doing something about it: The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a nonprofit that provides aid to those fleeing conflict or natural disaster. The IRC recently set up 13 centers focused solely on assisting survivors of gender-based violence. The centers provide the women a place to meet regularly to discuss their trauma. Lilian Dawa, a South Sudanese refugee herself, runs one such centers in Uganda. Dawa says that the women greatly value the centers where they also learn skills like how to make a kitchen stove from clay.

3.  Starving families force girls into marriage, ending their education.

Data from 2016 found that 52 percent of South Sudanese girls married by the age of 18. Many families are marrying their daughters off in return for a dowry of cows, a source of money and food. As a result, this effectively ends the daughter’s education.

Doing something about it: Plan International wants to provide an incentive for families to keep their girls in school. They also offer free school meals and food packages for families who decide to keep their daughters in the education system.

4.  South Sudanese women are not receiving justice.

The 2016 UN Commission report on the South Sudanese civil war stated that sexual violence reached “epic proportions.” Many South Sudanese women don’t report their sexual assault due to fears of being outcasted by their families. That, and the fact that few rapists receive consequences for their actions.

Doing something about it: U.S. Department of State

Per a June 2016 executive order, the State Department is held accountable to the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. As part of the strategic plan, the U.S. government must “institutionalize a gender-responsive approach” to its policy toward regions of conflict, include women in the peace process, find ways to hold perpetrators of sexual assault accountable, invest in women to prevent conflict and provide access to relief.

The women of South Sudan undoubtedly face horrific circumstances in the ongoing conflict. Nevertheless, numerous organizations, including the ones mentioned here, remain committed to finding solutions so that the next generation of South Sudanese women doesn’t grow up under the same circumstances.

Sean Newhouse

Photo: Flickr

A couple of weeks ago, the U.N. announced that there is a famine in South Sudan. A number of factors have contributed to this famine, such as the civil war that began in 2013 and a drought that has stymied agricultural production.

According to Newsweek, nearly 5.5 million people will not have a reliable food source by July 2017. This is unacceptable, especially since the world’s wealthiest countries can help save millions of lives. Luckily, there are many organizations working to help the South Sudanese through donations and support from American citizens. Here are 10 organizations that are addressing the famine in South Sudan.

10 Organizations Addressing Famine in South Sudan

  1. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) supports people in need through “fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.” In addition to raising awareness and raising funds, UNICEF designs and executes emergency relief programs, and is currently providing aid to the South Sudanese.
  2. Save the Children is on the ground in South Sudan, providing support to the people fleeing famine and war with healthcare facilities that provide immunizations and care for infections and disease. Save the Children is also supporting malnourished children with health and nutrition programs.
  3. World Vision provides relief from the violence and famine in South Sudan that has been ravaging the country’s population. The organization ensures that essentials like food, shelter and sanitation are available to those who need it.
  4. Water for South Sudan works hard to bring clean water to the rural areas of the country that do not have access. Clean water is not only necessary for sanitation purposes but also to ensure that each person in South Sudan is getting enough water to survive during the harsh famine that has taken over some parts of the country. By drilling holes, fixing infrastructure and constructing roads, its teams are slowly helping the country get water in even the most remote areas of South Sudan.
  5. Sudan Relief Fund goes where the need is by providing immediate relief to those who are undernourished in the wake of the famine in South Sudan. In addition, the organization works on long-term projects that will provide everlasting support in the country, such as hospital construction and education classes. Whether it is building wells, handing out food or raising awareness about proper hygiene and sanitation methods, this organization is putting in the work to help the South Sudanese people.
  6. Oxfam is helping the South Sudanese who have had to flee their homes to escape violence, as well as those who had their agriculture affected by climate change and drought. Oxfam provides food relief, water treatment and health services.
  7. Action Against Hunger has been in South Sudan for more than 20 years, providing support with life-saving relief and education programs. Now, the organization is helping work towards ending the famine in South Sudan by mobilizing emergency response teams, gathering data to identify areas in need and treating thousands of malnourished children.
  8. CARE is currently working in South Sudan in response to the famine and crisis surrounding undernourishment and improper sanitation methods. This organization provides urgent medical and food relief to those who require attention.
  9. International Medical Corps works in Nyal, one of the most affected counties in South Sudan. It provides support through medical services, nutrition services and has established 24-hour emergency relief centers in the area.
  10. Norwegian Refugee Council has been in South Sudan since the country’s independence in 2011. Since then, it has started and continues to support education, nutrition, shelter and medical programs, especially in light of the famine and violence that is ravaging the population.

The sheer number of organizations working to provide aid in the country offers hope in the fight to end the famine in South Sudan. Any of these organizations are worthy of support in whatever form it comes in, such as advocacy, fundraising, donations and volunteering.

Jacqueline Nicole Artz

Photo: Flickr

The Sudanese civil war ended with South Sudan’s successful secession referendum. The referendum effectively split Sudan in two. Less than two years later, South Sudan was plunged into its own three-year civil war. As a result, South Sudan, the youngest country in the world, now has the largest refugee crisis in Africa. Here are 10 facts about South Sudanese refugees.

  1. One and a half million South Sudanese have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in neighboring countries, predominantly Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and other eastern sub-Saharan African countries.
  2.  The South Sudanese civil war sparked from a falling out between President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer.  As a result, 3.5 million people have lost their homes.
  3. As violence began to escalate in the capital city of Juba in July 2016, the rates of displaced refugees have continued to rise. On average, 63,000 people are displaced every month.
  4. Ninety percent of the South Sudanese refugees are women and children. Human rights groups have found that both Dinka and Nuer forces have killed civilians, raped thousands of women, and forcefully recruited children to fight in their armies.
  5. Food security is a real problem in South Sudan. According to the World Food Program, 40 percent of the population is in desperate need of food assistance. The Sudanese government is unable to feed its population because it has diverted most of its resources to fighting rebel forces.
  6. The international community warns that the growing humanitarian crisis has the potential to become the worst global famine in 70 years.
  7. One million people are on the brink of extreme hunger, 2.9 million faces a food crisis that will likely escalate into a famine, while more than 7.5 million South Sudanese are in need of food assistance.
  8. In order to prevent the impending famine, the international community would need to come up with $4.4 billion by the end of March. As of Mar. 29, 2017, only 10 percent of that goal has been reached.
  9. In the midst of this impending famine, the government is planning to build a $10 billion new capitol building in Ramciel. However, if the construction was postponed and the funding was allocated as humanitarian assistance, the famine could be averted.
  10. Uganda has received the most South Sudanese refugees. The country’s handling of the steady inflow of 3,000 refugees per day is impressive. Refugees are allowed access to farmland and shelter, ensuring integration into Ugandan society. The people of Uganda do not want the refugees to become isolated in camps with no opportunity to branch out and join the greater Ugandan community.

If the South Sudanese government continues with its new capital project and the international community remains unsuccessful in accruing the $3.9 billion funding gap necessary to end the famine, then this humanitarian crisis will continue to develop and complicate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, likely becoming one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time.

Josh Ward

Photo: Flickr

South Sudan_Food
A recent report from the U.N. indicates 5.5 million South Sudanese people are facing food insecurity. Approximately 100,000 of those are in immediate danger of starving.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is stepping up to address the crisis. It is fast-tracking plans to deliver more than 150,000 fishing kits, consisting of lines, hooks and nets, to those in need.

A Multi-Faceted Problem

Nearly 95 percent of South Sudan’s population depends on farming, fishing or herding to meet their needs. Unfortunately, a drought plunged multiple parts of the country, already torn by a civil war that started in 2013, into famine and food insecurity.

The conflict forced approximately 2.4 million people to move from their homes. It has also prevented many farmers from harvesting their crops. Some were able to shelter in neighboring countries, but other families were not so lucky. Driven into the bush, those unable to flee the country resorted to eating weeds and water lily roots.

To complicate matters even more, poor roads are disrupting some routes in South Sudan and negatively affecting critical supply lines. Coupled with an 800 percent hyperinflation rate, the supply chain issues are making it impossible for many to purchase food.

Life-Saving Equipment

FAO representative Serge Tissot knows the virtues of the simple hooks, lines and nets in mitigating food insecurity. “Fishery equipment is the best tool for them to catch something to eat quickly,” he said.

Terekeka state, near South Sudan’s capital city of Juba, shows promise for the hungry people. The region lies close to the Nile and includes five lakes that are home to Nile Perch, Tilapia, Catfish and Mudfish.

Terekeka Fishing Cooperative Chairman, Clement Sebit, reports that previously distributed fishing kits are have already been put to good use in the stocked waters. “We have had more people come to this area seeking safety…they are now fishing together with the other fisher folk.”

The fishing kits are part of the Emergency Livelihood Response Program, which receives its funding through the Common Humanitarian Fund Norway, UKAID and USAID.

Gisele Dunn

Photo: Flickr