250,000 South Sudanese children suffering from starvation

Expelled UN aid chief warns that up to 250,000 children in South Sudan are vulnerable to starvation as the nation’s 18-month long civil conflict is no closer to ending

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

UN chief Toby Lanzer warned of a catastrophic crisis in South Sudan on Tuesday, saying “Six months ago, we thought that violence and suffering had peaked and that peace was on the horizon. We were wrong.”

Lanzer was barred from entering the country after he warned of an economic meltdown months ago.

“Political intransigence left peace ever more distant; war raged on and is leading to economic collapse,” he said.

Two-thirds of the country's 12 million people are in need of aid, with 4.5 million people facing severe food insecurity, according to the UN.

The civil war which broke out in December 2013 plunged the young African nation into a vicious circle of retaliatory killings after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy of plotting a coup.

The country is now treading a hate-stricken path of racial tensions, ethnic massacres, rape and the use of child soldiers.

“The most recent fighting has been characterised by widespread burning of homes, demolition of schools, hospitals and health posts, wholesale theft of tens of thousands of livestock, destruction of water points and other assaults on infrastructure and assets necessary for communal life,” the UN report read.

“In half of the country, one in three children are acutely malnourished and 250 000 children face starvation,” Lanzer added, in a report urging donors to contribute to a $1.63 billion aid appeal, saying South Sudan ranked “lower in terms of human development than just about every other place on earth.”

“There has been no apparent effort to distinguish military from civilian targets, with shelling of population centers and indiscriminate firing of weapons into settlements.”

More than a dozen aid workers have been killed in South Sudan since the civil war began, with many others missing or fleeing the country to neighbouring African nations.

UN compounds and aid convoys have been “looted with impunity” the report added.

The United States said on Tuesday that $113 million worth of fresh humanitarian aid is on its way to South Sudan to help provide food, safe drinking water and emergency health services in the country.

“The United States calls on all parties to the conflict to immediately bring an end to the senseless violence in South Sudan,” the State Department said, urging Juba to allow unfettered humanitarian access across the country.

The African Union condemned all the parties in conflict and called on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on them.

“The continuation of hostilities, in total disregard of the suffering of the people, is tantamount to the abdication by the South Sudanese leaders of their most fundamental responsibility to their own people,” the AU Peace and Security Council said.

TRTWorld and agencies