Crisis in South Sudan

Crisis-hit South Sudan mother’s plea: ‘Please help us – our children are starving’
• Oct 04, 2014 19:05
• By Peter Lane
The world’s newest nation is facing a humanitarian crisis and aid agencies warn it could become a ‘catastrophe’ within months if nothing is done to help
5 News / Kathleen Prior / Save the Children
Please help: South Sudan in crisis
Nyakuony Ryadhel is praying for the lives of her three children – all gravely ill with severe malnutrition, writes Peter Lane for 5 News in South Sudan.
They lie pitifully side by side at a clinic in South Sudan, a country in the grip of conflict and dwindling food supplies.
Her eldest child Nyatut, seven, is so weak she cannot sit up.
Five-year-old Biel is so thin his bones almost pierce his skin.
And three-month-old Jidu cries constantly. Nyakuony, 23, is so hungry herself she cannot provide enough breast milk.
Kathleen Prior / Save the Children

mother with starving children
Desperate: Children in South Sudan are starving
She said: “I am scared for my children. There is no meat, no fish, nothing for soup, only grain.
“I pray to God to save my ¬children. I ask for help because I didn’t do anything wrong to deserve that my ¬children die.”
In August, the Sunday Mirror highlighted the growing humanitarian crisis in what is the world’s newest nation after winning independence three years ago.
We told how the country’s plight was going almost unnoticed because the eyes of the world were on the escalating violence in the Middle East and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
But the situation in South Sudan is growing even worse. In the east of the country we met Nyanhial Ruot, 25. She and her family were just some of many who walked for more than a month to escape the fighting in Malakal to get to the relative calm of Akobo.
She revealed: “All we had to eat were the leaves on the trees and we drank rainwater from puddles. I’m worried because there’s not enough food here now.”
Kathleen Prior / Save the Children
In need: The people of South Sudan
The crisis began at the ¬beginning of the year when fighting between government and opposition forces was at its height. This was followed by a poor harvest and the rainy season has made moving aid around the country very ¬difficult.
To get to Akobo from the capital Juba, we had to take a UN flight, then a helicopter and finally a boat up the river Pibor. Now that the rains are set to ease there are fears of even more hostility as the ground dries and troops become mobile again.
Akobo County Commissioner Koang Rambang paints a ¬terrifying picture.
He said: “Things are actually getting worse because this war should have ended.
“We are going to have ¬genocide, plus famine. We will have more deaths through guns and more deaths through hunger.”
UN camps have been set up for people who have fled their homes and aid agencies are doing their best to get food and ¬medicine to those most in need. But Tariq Riebl, from Oxfam, told us: “This is a man-made crisis and there has to be a man-made solution. South Sudan is not being spoken about but millions more could be affected – things are very, very bad.”
The situation is already being described as a crisis by aid ¬agencies including Oxfam and Save the Children.
They warn that in the weeks and months ahead it could become a catastrophe, tipping South Sudan into famine.