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Children face famine conditions in South Sudan

More than one million people, including 345,000 children, are at risk of starvation as the worst famine since 1985 devastates communities in South Sudan.

In response, ChildFund Australia has launched the Africa Food Crisis Appeal, working in partnership with Plan International Australia to provide emergency food aid to the worst affected communities.

ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence said: “A deadly combination of El Nino weather patterns, three years of civil conflict and collapse of the local economy has resulted in this horrific situation for children and families in South Sudan.

“It is also extremely concerning that neighbouring countries may shortly follow suit. We could see one of the worst ever humanitarian emergencies in north-east Africa unfold.”

The United Nations formally announced today that the food security crisis in South Sudan had now reached famine conditions. A famine can only be declared when three scenarios are met:

– At least 20 per cent of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope;

– Acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 per cent; and

– The death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 persons.

This is the situation in South Sudan today, and it is estimated that more than 20 million children and families across four countries, including Ethiopia and Kenya, could face life-threatening food shortages over the coming months.

“The extreme drought conditions, compounded by mid-season rain failures, are forcing many families to leave their villages in order to find the resources they need to survive. As a result, this is now the third largest refugee crisis worldwide.

“People already severely malnourished are taking to the road in a last ditch attempt to survive. We urge the Australian Government to support the international humanitarian response so that children and families are not forced to flee their homes and face even greater dangers.”

Photo Credit: Kate Holt/AP

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