15 December, 2014 - South Sudan conflict one year on: Millions risking starvation

Plan International’s Country Director for South Sudan is available for grabs, interviews, etc. Please contact Adam Cathro on 0488 202 945 to organise.

At least a million people in South Sudan are at risk of starvation in 2015, as the conflict that began one year ago today shows little sign of ending but which risks being all but forgotten by the rest of the world, says Plan International Australia.

The fighting which broke out on December 15 has also seen millions driven from their home and into hiding in the bush or into makeshift refugee camps in UN bases that are struggling to cope. Many thousands of children have found themselves separated from family and friends, putting them in danger of neglect, abuse or being recruited into the conflict as child soldiers.

“The situation here in South Sudan is unquestionably grim,” says Dave Husy, Plan’s Country Director in South Sudan. “And yet, the world is averting its eyes from South Sudan and looking at Iraq and Syria, and the Ebola crisis instead.”

“There is no doubt that these are major crises that deserve our attention. But so, too, is the conflict in South Sudan and we must not look away,” Husy says.

“South Sudan is the world’s newest country and it is very fragile. It needs our help and our guidance. The situation here may look bad but pulling away will only make it worse.”

Husy says that in the coming year, over a million people are at risk of food insecurity, and 300,000 children and their families are at risk of facing hunger in 2015 as food stocks run out.

“For young children, malnutrition poses a terrible risk to their future, and NGOs like Plan International are playing an important role in ensuring food and nutrition is provided to the vulnerable. But we of course need the support of the public to do as much as we can to help.”

“As always in terrible emergencies like this, it is the children who suffer. Many have been separated from families and caregivers, and we can only imagine just how profoundly distressing that must be. But it also makes them more vulnerable to violence, abuse, and recruitment into the conflict as child soldiers.”

“The trauma of conflict leaves lasting marks on children’s psyche and wellbeing,” says Husy. “And each day, children without food get weaker and this puts them in danger of diseases caused by dirty water. This threat increases because families fleeing do not have a reliable water supply.”

Plan International Australia has launched a South Sudan Food Appeal to help address the crisis. Australians can call 13 75 26 or visit plan.org.au/foodappeal to help make a difference to people who need it most. Donations will be used to match Food Grants from UN partner agencies, effectively multiplying public donations by 12 times.

“Now is the time for Australians to step up and help the people of South Sudan. Thanks to the Food Grant from UN partner agencies, all individual donations are effectively multiplied by 12 times – so even the smallest donation to Plan’s South Sudan Food Appeal can have an enormous impact,” Husy says.

Australians wishing to support the people of South Sudan can donate to Plan International’s South Sudan Food Appeal online at plan.org.au/foodappeal or by ringing 13 75 26.

Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International in Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945