South Sudan

Famine hits Kapoeta, locals call for swift action

News and Press Release
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KAPOETA - Officials say Kapoeta County is in the grip of a famine, which has killed at least 10 people. Officials in the Eastern Equatorian region of Kapoeta called for humanitarian aid to save starving citizens, noting the government’s failure to provide emergency help.

“International organisations have not responded. We demand rapid intervention by organisations and merchants,” said North Kapoeta Commissioner Lokai Iko.

He warned that the poor were worst hit as they could no longer afford basics amid rampant inflation.

Earlier this month a press conference was held in the presence of Kapoeta County commissioners and members of the State parliament to discuss the famine in Kapoeta.

The commissioners of Kapoeta demanded the government, civil society organisations (CSOs) and local merchants to provide aid quickly. Citizens expressed anger, accusing the government of negligence.

Citizen Deo Donny Martin said his family was at risk because of governmental incompetence. “It is our government’s fault. We in South Sudan have lost our value as Africans,” he said, calling on churches in South Sudan, especially in Kapoeta, to help.

Lokai Iko blamed severe weather conditions for soaring prices. Drought blighted crops in October 2011 and the following April, May, June and July saw severe rainfall, which ruined the agricultural season. He said citizens were selling animals to purchase food in the county markets, but they were hit by soaring prices amid dwindling supplies.

Joseph Lual, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, said the ministry, the RRS Committee and some organisations would visit the area to examine the situation, explaining that difficult roads hindered access.

Wilson Joseph Kiir, a local, said returnees from Sudan were at particular risk from the famine.

Wilson added that according to UN reports, South Sudan had already been classified as one of the least developed countries due to low national income, poor human resources and vulnerable economy. “This situation is critical,” he said. “Thus, we appeal to all international, regional and local forces to recognise the danger.”