South Sudan Is No Longer in Famine — But 6 Million Are Still Starving
It’s a small step in the right direction.
South Sudan is officially no longer in a state of famine, though the country’s hunger crisis is still threatening millions of lives everyday.
The four-month-long famine was the first one in the world to be declared since 2011, according to the BBC. There are also three other countries teetering on the brink of famine right now: Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia.
Humanitarian aid, including the $990 million the US promised to fight famine in Africa this year, helped pull the two affected counties in South Sudan from the technical state known as famine.
The criteria for famine include when at least 20% of the population has access to fewer than 2,100 calories a day, acute malnutrition in more than 30% of children, and two deaths per 10,000 people or four child deaths per 10,000 children every day.
Still, there are 1.7 million people in the country facing “emergency levels” of hunger, which is just one step below famine, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification report.
And those at risk for starvation have actually increased, from 5.5 million last month to 6 million this month.
The hunger crisis in South Sudan was triggered by a combination of ongoing armed conflict, low harvest, and soaring food prices, according to the BBC, and has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of South Sudanese. Millions more have been displaced by the conflict and risk of starvation.
Globally, 20 million people are currently at risk for famine. The UN has called the four-country emergency the “largest humanitarian crisis in the history” of the agency.
"I do urge caution, as this does not mean we have turned the corner on averting famine," UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien said. "Across South Sudan, more people are on the brink of famine today than were in February."
And humanitarian groups have urged the world to remember those still facing food insecurity.
“Thanks to aid efforts, famine has been pushed back, but 45,000 people in these areas and in former Jonglei State are still facing famine-like conditions," Sara Almer, Oxfam South Sudan Country Director, said in a statement. "There is no room for complacency."