Children playing in Bentiu camp. Photo: UNMISS.
Six months after the eruption of an ethnic conflict, South Sudan faces a chaotic humanitarian crisis in which children are the first casualties. The United Nations estimated on Tuesday that 50,000 children are at risk of dying of starvation or hunger by the end of the year. We spoke with two humanitarian aid workers on the ground.
“Since many communities can no longer farm or raise livestock, the risk of famine is high. In certain particularly remote regions of the country, there are already people dying of hunger,” Toby Lanzer, the head of UN humanitarian operations in South Sudan, has warned. He indicated that the United Nations would launch a relief operation to provide emergency aid to 3.8 million people “affected by hunger, violence, and illness”.
According to Abdinasir Aboubakar, a doctor in charge of procuring supplies for the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), mortality rates might be very high in the refugee camps. “In Bentiu camp, there are about three deaths per day out of a population of 10,000 people. The situation would be considered normal only if there were one or fewer.”
Over a million people were forced to flee their homes to escape the violence that started in December 2013. Of these, 94,000 are now in refugee camps, notably those of the capital, Juba, a camp close to Tomping, and the camps of Malakal, Bor, and Bentiu. In the latter two camps, which are the newest, the situation is particularly alarming.
Displaced people collecting water at Bentiu camp. Photo: @Kent Page
Children in the muddy Bor camp. Photo: UNMISS.
Displaced people setting up shelter in a Juba camp. Photo: UNMISS.