Thursday, December 24, 2020

'Mom, we need food': Thousands in South Sudan near famine

Climate disruption is making the situation worse, increasing conflict, decreasing food supplies, at times making it hard to deliver aid, as in the flooding cited in this article.


Thu, December 24, 2020, 2:03 AM EST

After nearly a week of hiding from conflict, Kallayn Keneng watched two of her young children die. “They cried and cried and said, ‘Mom, we need food,'" she said. But she had nothing to give. Too frail to bury her 5-year-old and 7-year-old after days without eating, she covered their bodies with grass and left them in the forest.

Now the mourning 40-year-old awaits food aid, one of more than 30,000 people said to be in likely famine in South Sudan's Pibor county. The new finding by international food security experts means this could be the first part of the world in famine since one was declared in 2017 in another part of the country then deep in civil war.

South Sudan is one of four countries with areas that could slip into famine, the United Nations has warned, along with Yemen, Burkina Faso and northeastern Nigeria.

Pibor county this year has seen deadly local violence and unprecedented flooding that have hurt aid efforts. On a visit to the town of Lekuangole this month, seven families told The Associated Press that 13 of their children starved to death between February and November.


The Famine Review Committee’s report, released this month by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, stops short of declaring famine because of insufficient data. But famine is thought to be occurring, meaning at least 20% of households face extreme food gaps and at least 30% of children are acutely malnourished.


Flooding has cut off most road access to Pibor town and its better medical care, forcing some severely sick children to travel for three days along the river in flimsy plastic rafts.


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