South Sudan: As Many as 6 Million People Need Help

February 18, 2014

By

Elizabeth M. Kiem

UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake and other UN agency heads raised the emergency level for South Sudan on February 5, calling for immediate back-up response teams to be deployed to support UNICEF’s efforts in the conflict-ridden nation.

As representatives from South Sudan’s factions engage in peace talks in Ethiopia, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon denounced the "ongoing fighting and skirmishes" that defy the cease-fire signed last month.

More than 730,000 people, half of them children, have been displaced since fighting flared up last December. Conditions for the displaced, many of whom are seeking refuge in UN bases, are worsening rapidly. As many as 6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, an estimated 3 million face food insecurity, and the risk of disease is very high, particularly ahead of the rainy season.

According to Voice of America, a local official in the state of Jonglei has called for international assistance to respond to reports of starvation.

UNICEF is particularly concerned about children, who are the most vulnerable population in any emergency. In South Sudan, UNICEF has built latrines in camps for the displaced, provided malnutrition treatment and vaccinations for children under five and helped reunite unaccompanied children with their families.