Major UK NGOs and their international partners have only half the money they need to tackle the increasingly desperate humanitarian crisis afflicting South Sudan, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) said today (Monday 17th August).
DEC member agencies have reported to the DEC they are seeking £236m to respond to the food crisis and other urgent needs created by the civil war but have only secured £117m - 49% of what is needed.
This massive shortfall is despite the fact that 4.6m people in South Sudan face a crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity, according to the latest available statistics. A further 3.2m are facing food stress and also need aid. Less than half of the 7.8m people in need of aid are receiving help because of ongoing fighting, the appalling state of the roads and the huge funding shortfall.
The situation is worse than the same time last year, when 3.9m people were in crisis or emergency levels of food security.
In the areas most affected by the conflict an increasing number of families are facing ‘catastrophe’ – the worst in a series of technical categories of household food deprivation. In simple terms it means that these families are frequently going entire days without any food at all and that in total they are getting less than half the food they need to survive.
The DEC’s warning comes on the same day as a critical deadline in the peace process, which many in South Sudan hope will result in a meaningful cessation of hostilities. However even if a peace deal is reached, millions of people in South Sudan will continue to need humanitarian assistance for months to come.
Saleh Saeed, DEC Chief Executive, said:
“Millions of people in South Sudan are going hungry right now because of this hidden and growing crisis. Despite its seriousness, the world is unable to find enough money to fund an aid effort which is so desperately needed.
“We are frustrated that the South Sudan crisis is being virtually ignored by the world. This situation is as serious as those in the Middle East, but gets a fraction of the world’s attention. That’s not good enough.
“There are many excuses for struggling to get aid to people in South Sudan. Yes, conflict and poor roads make delivering aid extremely difficult. But the DEC’s member agencies have the skill, the experience and the determination to meet these challenges. However a lack of money hampers any aid effort right from the start.
“There are no simple or easy solutions to this conflict and the food crisis it has caused but that is no excuse for not doing what we can.”
Mr Saeed said that the DEC was assessing the situation in South Sudan against its appeal criteria.
“If there were a DEC appeal, we know our member agencies have the capacity to spend that money effectively, despite the conflict and the rainy season. But we are very concerned that despite some excellent news coverage of the situation, public awareness of the crisis in the UK remains very low, making a successful appeal extremely difficult.”
It is not just the UK’s aid agencies which are struggling to find the money for South Sudan. The UN is seeking $1.63 billion for its Strategic Response plan, but has only been given $843 million, 52% of the money. The UK Department for International Development has been one of the leading international donors supporting humanitarian work in South Sudan. The UK Government has given £117m since the current emergency started in December 2013, around the same amount as the Norwegians, with only the US government having given more.
The crisis is spilling over into neighbouring countries. There are over 600,000 refugees in Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya, in addition to the 1.6 million people inside South Sudan itself who have been forced to flee the fighting.
The situation in South Sudan is particularly acute in the summer as this is the “lean season” when food stocks run low but the new harvest is not yet ready. In 2015 the lean season started two months early due to low food stocks and high food prices.
For more information contact Sean Kenny on 0207 255 9111 or email@example.com
Notes to editors
- The levels of hunger in South Sudan have been assessed by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).
- The IPC’s highest level for a household is known as Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), and is described as: “Even with any humanitarian assistance, household group has an extreme lack of food and/or other basic needs even with full employment of coping strategies.” Famine (IPC Phase 5) is declared when an area has more than 20 percent of households which are classified in Catastrophe, along with extremely underweight children and a high rate of mortality.
- Full details of the IPC’s classifications can be found at ipcinfo.org. The IPC’s website also includes the food security assessments whose findings are included in this press release.