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Hungry children walk for days escaping South Sudan

A group of displaced women and children rest on Ethiopian territory after crossing the Baro River from South Sudan. Some 20,000 people have fled South Sudan since a ceasefire began in early May.
A group of displaced women and children rest on Ethiopian territory after crossing the Baro River from South Sudan. Some 20,000 people have fled South Sudan since a ceasefire began in early May.
UNHCR/L.F.Godinho

To escape the violence and hunger in South Sudan, hundreds of thousands of people have fled to neighboring Ethiopia. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says that over 90 percent of the refugees are women and children.

They travel by foot. That alone is dangerous enough. These refugees have no food for their journey either. WFP says they are "Surviving on foliage and roots in the forest, they arrive in Ethiopia in a critical nutritional condition."

WFP has set up operations at entry points into Ethiopia. This way food can be distributed to refugees the moment they arrive. Once in the refugee camps more rations are provided. This food is essential for families, and in particular children, who are most vulnerable to malnutrition. Children under the age of five will suffer lasting physical and mental damage from malnutrition.

There is likely to be more refugees in the coming days and weeks. Funding the relief for these war victims is crucial. WFP says it does not have resources to continue the feeding programs into the fall. WFP relies entirely on voluntary donations.

The UN food agency and its partners are facing a number of large humanitarian emergencies at once. In addition to South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Syria are also countries with internal conflict. Millions of displaced persons from these wars need food, water, medicine and shelter.

WFP has set up a South Sudan donation page.