Famine in South Sudan: How Bad the Civil Unrest Has Gotten


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The famine in South Sudan has made it difficult to engage in subsistence and commercial farming especially in the Central Equitoria, the breadbasket of the nation

Since it gained independence about six years ago, South Sudan has been rocked with a gruesome civil war which has claimed thousands of lives, destroyed homes, and now the worst of it all – resulted in a famine.

Famine has officially been declared in parts of South Sudan as a result of the raging civil war which has claimed so many lives. The famine according to the South Sudan government and some U.N. agencies, is as a result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis which has left the East African nation with a crippled economy.

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Aid agencies, including the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the children’s fund UNICEF, have said that 4.9 million people – more than 40% of South Sudan’s population, are in urgent need of food.

According to UN humanitarian criteria, a famine is declared when massive food shortage intensifies to the extent of leading to high measures of mortality, malnutrition and hunger.

This life threatening situation can only be confirmed when at least 20% of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope. Furthermore, famine is confirmed when severe malnutrition rates exceed 30% and death rate exceeds two persons per day of every 10,000 persons according to the UN.

It is a man made famine: Unlike that which is caused by drought or other natural disasters, the famine in South Sudan has been described as that caused by man. The declared famine in South Sudan as a matter of fact, is of the country’s making. The country’s politicians and the humanitarian crisis they have allowed to blossom are to blame for the massive starvation that has rocked the nation.

The prevailing violent humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, has made it difficult for civilians to engage in subsistence and commercial farming especially in Central Equitoria, said to be the breadbasket of the nation. The saddest part of the situation is that the government of the country’s President Salva Kiir, is blocking food aid to some areas, according to U.N. officials.

This is not the first time South Sudan has experienced such a crisis. During the war for independence from Sudan, the territory suffered from a famine in 1998.

Other war torn nations like Yemen, Somalia and north-eastern Nigeria, have been rumored in the media to be threatened by a famine; but only South Sudan has been confirmed to be experiencing one.

According to the government, more than 100,000 people in two counties of Unity State are experiencing famine. Reports from the head of Food and agriculture organization in South Sudan has indicated fear that the famine in South Sudan will extend to up to 1 million South Sudanese.

South Sudan Civil War

South Sudan has become one of the countries which have been on the receiving end of the ravages of civil war. After the country won its independence from Sudan in 2011, there have been massive civil unrest -a situation which escalated into a civil war in 2013.

crisis in South Sudan

The leading political party -People’s Liberation Movement, who led the way for independence has been at war with themselves. The violence had started as an internal dispute, which emerged after South Sudan’s President accused his vice of an attempted coup.

In December 2013, the political infighting erupted into violence in the streets of the capital, Juba. In the first few months of the conflict, massive violence spread across the nation like wild fire displacing thousands of civilians.

In recent times, over 3 million citizens have been forced to flee their homes: more than 1.5 million people have escaped to neighboring countries in search of safety. The country has experienced several killings and retaliatory killings among the two factions of government; with forces loyal to each being constantly accused of carrying out the killings.

The civil unrest has also led to a drastic decline in South Sudan’s food security especially in Central Equitoria state. Despite record levels of international humanitarian aid distribution, there has not enough to cater for all the people in need.

Following countless failed peace agreements, the young nation literally needs a miracle at the moment to alleviate the enraged civil unrest which has led to countless deaths, sicknesses, drought and now famine.