South Sudan: Oxfam calls for urgent action as famine worries loom | News | DW | 29.05.2018
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South Sudan: Oxfam calls for urgent action as famine worries loom

The British charity said people were falling ill from eating grass and weeds. A four-year civil war, poor harvests and rising food prices have been blamed for the widespread hunger in the world's youngest nation.

Oxfam on Tuesday urged urgent action to prevent millions of people being hit by famine in South Sudan.

The British charity's call for action comes just days after the latest rounds of peace talks in Addis Ababa failed to bring an agreement to end a four-year conflict in the country.

What did Oxfam say?

  • "The South Sudan humanitarian situation is fast becoming a forgotten crisis," Tim Bierley, Oxfam Campaigns Manager for South Sudan, told DW. "As the civil war in the country rages on, humanitarian need continues to grow, but funding is not keeping up; nearly half way through the year, only 20% of the humanitarian response plan is funded."
  • "Fighting and displacement have disrupted planting and harvests, and the economic crisis caused by ongoing conflict has resulted in a near complete breakdown in markets and rising inflation," Bierley said.
  • A fifth of households in the town of Pibor in eastern Boma state could already be classified as suffering from famine levels of hunger.
  • Pibor has also seen food availability drop sharply after pests and flooding destroyed harvests.
  • As the rainy season sets in, much of the food supplies would be required to be flown in from capital Juba, making them unaffordable for many.

Read moreSouth Sudan: Still broadcasting loud and clear

Eating grass and weeds for survival

Nicolo Di Marzo, Oxfam acting Country Director in South Sudan said: "Waiting for a formal declaration of famine is not good enough. People are already starving and desperate. A woman in Pibor said that her family has resorted to cooking grasses and weeds that are making them sick — but that they have no choice if they want to survive."

"This is not an isolated problem. Urgent action is needed now to save lives in Pibor and across South Sudan," he added.

South Sudan famine in 2017: The world's youngest nation was classified as being in famine last year. The civil war, poor harvests and rising food prices were also blamed for 2017 hunger crisis.

South Sudan civil war: South Sudan plunged into a civil war, barely two years after independence from Sudan in 2011. The war that pits the army of President Salva Kiir against the armed fighters of his former deputy, Riek Machar has left tens of thousands dead and many more displaced.

Uncertain future: Last week, talks in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa failed to revive South Sudan’s failed 2015 peace pact and end the country’s civil war, leaving the African country facing an uncertain future.

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