Following the announcement that the World Food Programme has had to stop food distribution in South Sudan, there are now reports that three people in Warrap state have died of starvation.
Jane Backhurst, senior adviser at Christian Aid, said: “Christian Aid believes in life before death, and that every life counts. These lives lost due to starvation, with South Sudan at the tipping point towards widespread death show once again that governments' commitment to preventing death and genuinely honouring life is hollow.
“Eleven years since the creation of South Sudan, its people demonstrate stunning strength and resilience to the deadly trio of continuing conflict, climate induced shocks and the lasting effects of Covid and limited vaccines. Soaring food and fuel prices have now added to this to form a toxic quartet. The economy is in a downward spiral, livelihoods are eroded and lost, farmland destroyed by four years of floods, and food prices have doubled in a few months as the effects of the war in Ukraine are felt.”
She continued: “We saw starvation coming in 2017, but collaboration between governments, UN and charities averted large scale death and disability. Christian Aid has been raising the alarm about escalating hunger in South Sudan since 2020. 82% of the population are struggling to get enough food, 62.7% are in food "crisis", on the verge of famine or facing death. And numbers will increase as precious and dwindling funds have been moved from areas of "crisis" to areas of potential famine, even before the current lean season.
“Aid has dwindled. The UK cut 59% of its aid last year, and only 36% of the UN-led country appeal is funded. This flouts the UK's commitments last autumn to anticipate and respond quickly to early signs. Its announcement of "new support" to the Horn of Africa last week, was largely repackaged funding. Globally, $21.5 billion dollars is required to support 43 million people on the brink of famine, fighting for their lives, and the G7 could only commit to helping 25% of them this week. For millions this will be too little, too late.
“But the UK Government can decide to reallocate funds from its budget, robustly and transparently consider how to generate additional support in real terms. It could use the proceeds from the sale of Chelsea FC to support these people also suffering from the effects of the Ukraine crisis - to respond as if this is an emergency. This is what being a "global player" is about, and this not only saves the UK money in the medium term, but it also saves every unique and priceless life now being lost.”