South Sudan famine warning
“We are now facing a famine in South Sudan,” says GOAL’s refugee programme manager in Ethiopia
GOAL’s refugee programme manager in Ethiopia, Mary T Murphy has said that refugee numbers from South Sudan into Ethiopia are set to explode, as a result of what is now a famine situation in South Sudan.
“We are going to need every emergency response facility in this region that we can possibly muster to cope with the overspill from what is now a famine situation in South Sudan. There are already 220,000 South Sudanese refugees in Gambella, but that number is set to explode. GOAL is already constantly expanding operations, but we are worried about reaching a point where we simply can’t cope,” warned Ms Murphy.
She was speaking at the opening of a new nutrition centre at Gambella, which was visited in the past few days by John Ging, Director of Operations for UNOCHA (the United Nations Office for the Co-Ordination of Humanitarian Affairs). In the last number of hours, Mr Ging has echoed Ms Murphy’s concerns, describing South Sudan as “the most rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the world today”.
“This is a manmade problem – the result of a political disagreement between two powerful individuals. It is tragic to see this happening in the world’s youngest country, whose independence we were so recently celebrating,” said Mr Ging. “Camps are overcrowded and, with the onset of the rainy season, the danger of a disease epidemic is very real. Urgent funding is needed to ensure that those fleeing violence in South Sudan can live decently, healthily and with dignity.”
Elaborating on the situation in Gambella, Mary T Murphy said: “During the past few weeks we have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of people fleeing across the border. As the famine bites ever deeper in South Sudan this will get worse, and ever-increasing numbers of desperate people will migrate in search of food. Around 90% of the new arrivals are women and children, and they are in an even worse state than was previously the case. Because of the famine situation, we can only expect the medical condition of new arrivals to become even worse over the coming weeks and months.
“The Ethiopian authorities have been unwavering in their support for the refugees. What is needed, however, is sufficient funding, resources and political intervention in South Sudan by the international community.”
A Portlaoise native (and former GOAL employee) Mr Ging paid tribute to the work of Mary T and the GOAL staff who are delivering nutrition, medical and water and sanitation aid for the South Sudanese refugees in Gambella.
For further comment, please contact:
GOAL CEO, Barry Andrews on 00 353 (0)86 836 1396
GOAL’s Mary T. Murphy on 00 251 930 033 098
GOAL’s Country Director in Ethiopia, John Rynne on +251 911 214 432
Note to editors:
· The $211 million (€156.48m) South Sudanese refugee appeal for Ethiopia is just 25 per cent funded
· So far, of the 193 Member States of the United Nations, only 18 are funding the appeal
· Of the full $1.8 billion required by the UN for their South Sudan Appeal, just $819 million has been received, leaving the appeal 55.5 per cent short of its target
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