South Sudan: Half a population at risk of famine
Malteser International distributes food, seeds to displaced population
In South Sudan’s Western Equatoria, Malteser International is distributing staple foods such as corn, rice, beans, and cooking oil to 7,500 people at risk of starvation after being displaced by the country’s civil war. In addition, the agency is distributing corn and peanut seeds as well as farming tools for the next planting season.
“Immediate food aid was necessary because the current food crisis has already turned into a disaster for the starving population,” says Jan Gruss, who coordinates the relief efforts for Malteser International. “The faster we act, the higher the chances of saving the life of thousands of children.”
As families suddenly had to flee the violence in their homeland, many arrived at the refugee camps in Maridi with nothing but the clothes on their backs. “We’ve distributed water containers, cups, plates, bowls, anything they need to survive,” Gruss says. Malteser International has supported the health care system in the region since 2008.
The conflict between government troops and rebels, which escalated last December, is the cause of the acute food crisis. “Because of the violence, one million South Sudanese had to leave their homes and fields behind and were not able to plant their crops, so the food supply is dramatically low,” Gruss reports. Poor infrastructure and the start of the rainy season have hampered the relief efforts. “The rain crippled large parts of the supply routes – many roads are impassable during the rainy season, but we need to reach people now,” he adds.
In neighboring Uganda, where thousands of South Sudanese sought refuge since the start of the crisis, Malteser International is helping improve the water supply for 11,000 residents at the Rhino refugee camp. The agency set up rainwater harvesting tanks and built additional wells and tap stations