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For hungry South Sudan, no independence to celebrate

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South Sudan today marked the 3rd anniversary of its independence. For the citizens of the country, many who are displaced and starving, there was nothing to celebrate.

The impoverished nation has seen a major conflict between the government and opposition forces since December. Over a million people have been forced out of their homes. They have lost everything. Pastor Peter Chuol, among those displaced and living in a crowded UN compound said, “There is nothing to celebrate when you are living in an IDP camp. Even before the crisis started, we did not celebrate. Celebrate what?”

People in South Sudan long for freedom from fear, hunger and want. Instead the country is in a seemingly endless cycle of violence. There are around 4 million people who are suffering from severe hunger. Children are starving to death from malnutrition. Aid agencies are struggling to bring life-saving supplies to remote areas. The situation is likely to get worse.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is leading the emergency hunger relief mission. They are facing an incredibly difficult task of delivering aid in a conflict and impoverished country. Joyce Luma the WFP director in South Sudan, warns, "We urgently need funds and partners to be able to expand coverage and establish a fixed presence in remote areas to support food and nutrition activities if we are to have any chance of avoiding an impending disaster.” WFP relies entirely on voluntary funds. Will the international community donate to their mission in South Sudan?

The citizens of South Sudan can only hope and pray the world will rescue them from war and starvation. Pastor Chuol tries to comfort the people, "God has brought this to us. As a pastor, I pray that He will heal our hearts, comfort widows and orphans, change our leaders’ hearts and give us peace.”

Peace is what the people of South Sudan need. Time is fast running out for millions of them as the famine arrives.

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