“South Sudan’s Looming Disaster: Famine in the Wake of Civil War”
The Washington Post, August 25, 2014, p.A6
“Less than four years after South Sudan declared independence from Sudan, a milestone that successive U.S. administrations worked to bring about, aid workers are racing to head off a large-scale humanitarian disaster. According to UNICEF and the World Food Program, close to a third of South Sudan’s population faces ‘acute’ or ’emergency’ levels of hunger and malnutrition… thousands of children remain stranded in remote parts of the country, where they are at risk of starvation. Aid agencies estimate that 235,000 children could become dangerously malnourished by the end of the year, and 50,000 of them could die unless they get treatment. South Sudan’s food crisis is almost entirely man-made. After eight months of civil war, about 1.1 million of its roughly 11 million people are internally displaced. Farmers missed this year’s planting season because of the violence. Livestock, which accounts for as much as 70 percent of the calories consumed by some communities, has been looted, killed and scattered in the mayhem. River trade, which forms a lifeline for many towns and cities cut off from the capital by road during the rainy season, has ground to a virtual standstill. … Experts have held off on making a formal famine declaration — there are specific criteria, including a death rate of 2 out of 10,000 people per day, which must be met before such a declaration can be made — but aid workers caution against waiting for that before taking action. … If hostilities continue into the dry season, aid workers fear that conditions could deteriorate substantially. As bad as the situation is now, at least there are water and plants on which displaced populations can survive. Once the dry season hits, those last lifelines will disappear.”
Quickie Analysis: News from the world’s newest country, already bleak, seems poised to become bleaker still and, more frustrating, is almost entirely a man-made disaster, or rather a men-made disaster.