22 February: 1 million facing starvation in south sudan just the 'tip of iceberg'
  • Signs pointing to famine overtaking 1983-85 Ethiopia famine as most deadly in living memory.
  • El Nino, political instability, conflict and a mass-migratory population ‘perfect storm’ for a humanitarian crisis of an enormous scale.
  • Fears for 345,000 children at-risk of starvation in South Sudan, particularly vulnerable girls.

    Australians are being encouraged to donate to the famine appeal at https://my.plan.org.au/south-sudan-famine-appeal 

The newly declared state of famine in parts of besieged country South Sudan heralds the beginning of a domino effect for the North and East Africa region, says Plan International Australia.

The aid organisation, which has worked in the region for decades, is gravely concerned at the escalating crisis - the first famine declared in six years - and warns Somalia may soon follow.

“This is without a doubt one of the most horrific crises in the world right now,” Plan Australia’s Programs Director Dave Husy said.

“The effects of conflict, El Nino and the erosion of food and livelihood resources is creating a perfect storm for a very serious and widespread humanitarian situation.  We could be looking at the worst food crisis in 50 years. Mid-season rain failures, conflict and severe drought have already displaced millions. Where will they go?

“To get a sense of the staggering scale of this crisis, 20 million people are in urgent need of immediate food assistance across four countries. Plan Australia’s focus is on ensuring children are receiving enough food, have access to child-friendly spaces and that children affected by conflict – particularly girls – are protected from harm.

“We urge the Federal Government to provide multi-year funding to this crisis and to increase the allocation of humanitarian funding delivered through NGOs to at least 20 per cent, so we can continue to respond.”

On Tuesday, the Government of South Sudan released IPC figures that estimate 80,000 people are in famine in South Sudan, mostly in the Greater Unity region, and a further 1 million are on the brink of starvation. 

In South Sudan, almost 5 million people are at risk and require emergency food assistance, in Somalia, 6.2 million people face acute food insecurity, in Ethiopia, 5.7 million will need food assistance and in Zimbabwe, 4 million people are food insecure and Nigeria at risk of being famine-declared. Emergencies have also been declared in South Africa, Lesotho, Madagascar, Kenya, and Malawi.

“This situation has impacts far reaching beyond food shortages,” Mr Husy added. “Because of a severe lack of water, most communities in Southern and East Africa have turned to unprotected water sources, which increases the risk of water-borne disease, poor sanitation and hygiene. Families are on the move to seek resources to survive, and children are vulnerable to risk and being removed from school to source food.”