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Horror in South Sudan with children starving to death

As the international community marked World Refugee Day, tragic news continued to emerge from war-torn South Sudan. Children are starving to death from food shortages.

Civilians at the UN House compound on the southwestern outskirts of Juba, South Sudan.
UN Photo/Julio Brathwaite

The United Nations, in a report distributed this morning, says that thousands of malnourished people have arrived at the UN compound in Bentiu in just the last few weeks. They are fleeing the violence but are weakened by hunger. Over 100 children have died in the last 6 weeks at the Bentiu base. Malnutrition and disease are claiming their lives.

Over one million people in South Sudan have been displaced by the war between the government and opposition forces. The result of this conflict has been a disintegration of food supplies. The war in South Sudan has also caused hundreds of thousands to flee into neighboring countries including Ethiopia. Their malnutrition rates are also reportedly high.

Even before the fighting began South Sudan was mired in hunger. Now almost 4 million in the country are expected to be impacted by food shortages this summer. Aid agencies are overwhelmed by this disaster.

Malnutrition is a leading killer among small children. For those who do survive, the lack of nourishment will lead to lasting physical and mental damage.

The extent of the malnutrition in South Sudan is becoming more known. A UNICEF report says more and more cases of malnutrition are being documented as aid agencies gain access to those in need. The death rate among children has soared recently according to UNICEF. Now that knowledge has to be spread worldwide so everyone knows the extent of famine conditions in South Sudan.

UNICEF, which relies on voluntary donations, is also low on funds for South Sudan. Its child nutrition programs inside the country require almost US $ 30 million more in funding. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) also requires funding to feed millions impacted by the crisis in the region.

UNICEF has a South Sudan donation page. WFP has set up a relief fund as well.