NEW YORK (April 11, 2014) – The youngest citizens of the world’s newest nation are on the verge of a nutrition crisis. Nearly a quarter of a million children in South Sudan will suffer from severe acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition, by the end of the year if more is not done now, says UNICEF.
Many children in South Sudan have already faced emergency levels of under-nutrition in the two and a half years since the country declared independence in 2011. Now, the ongoing conflict has pushed them to the edge. Unless treatment is scaled up immediately, as many as 50,000 children under the age of five are likely to die.
Currently, more than 3.7 million people, including nearly 740,000 children under five, are at high risk of food insecurity in the country. Many are already resorting to eating so-called “famine foods”—wild foods such as bulbs and grasses.
“Sadly, worse is yet to come. If conflict continues, and farmers miss the planting season, we will see child malnutrition on a scale never before experienced here,” said Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan. “If we cannot get more funds and better access to reach malnourished children in South Sudan, tens of thousands of under-fives will die.”
These are not mere statistics. They are the children for whom South Sudan holds so much potential and promise. We must not fail the children of this new and fragile nation,” said Veitch.
UNICEF’s immediate goal is to treat more than 150,000 severely malnourished children under five. This will occur, in part, through rapid response teams that deliver ready to use therapeutic foods, micronutrient supplements, medicines, water purification sachets, Vitamin A and deworming tablets. They also support breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women. This fast and flexible approach is currently being deployed in remote, previously unreachable areas. To fully meet nutrition needs in South Sudan, UNICEF currently needs $38 million, of which just $4.6 million has been received.
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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, email@example.com