A recently released report from the U.N. offers a sobering update on crisis response and relief efforts in the conflict-torn country of South Sudan. The report said that the U.N. and its various agencies have only received about $739 million of the approximately $1.8 billion that it needs in order to help rebuild after the devastation that has occurred since the conflict first broke out.
The report comes on the six-month anniversary of the outbreak that started in December of 2013, when then-Vice President Riek Machar was forced out of office by Salva Kiir, triggering racial conflict between Nuer and Dinka people, respectively.
Some of the statistics are quite alarming, considering the already catastrophic amount of destruction that has already happened. Over 1 million people are internally displaced, and at least 366,000 have fled the country, while 3.9 million people are at high risk of hunger or famine. And the prices of staple foods have been steadily increasing.
Furthermore, the entire country has also been plagued by a multitude of public health problems. On May 15, a cholera outbreak was declared in the capital city of Juba, with two other outbreaks being declared in other locations. By the end of the year, 116,000 people across the country could be affected by cholera alone. There have also been documented outbreaks of Hepatitis E, meningitis and measles, not to mention that during the current wet season, outbreaks of malaria and pneumonia are on the rise. Without the necessary aid, these statistics could become even worse, and South Sudan could slip even further into disarray.
Toby Lanzer, Deputy Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General in South Sudan, said “Men, women and children have fled from their homes and sought refuge in the bush, inside U.N. bases and in neighboring countries…With many communities unable to farm or tend properly to their cattle, the risk of famine looms large. In some particularly hard-to-reach areas of the country, people are already starving.”
But despite many of the grim statistics laid out in the report, there have been some successes. For example, 80 percent of communicable diseases have been responded to within 48 hours, 63 percent of children under the age of 5 with severe acute malnutrition have been treated and 82 percent of people that have been affected by the conflict have been provided with safe water.
Fortunately, there is hope for those living in South Sudan. In the words of Lanzer: “With the continued generosity and solidarity of donors around the world, we can help prevent more unnecessary death and despair. Every dollar counts and makes a difference to people’s lives.”
— Andre Gobbo