The European Union and the United Kingdom will join their forces together to help South Sudan fight famine. The European Commission has announced an emergency package of €82m to help South Sudan tackle – what the UN described as – a “man-made” famine in an oil-rich economy. The money provided by the EU will supplement aid provided by Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID), which is making £100m available to South Sudan this year. The UK has also announced £100m to Somalia, which is also facing the threat of famine.
According to the United Nations, famine in South Sudan has already left 100,000 people on the verge of starvation and almost 5 million people, more than 40% of the country’s population, are in need of humanitarian assistance. In some parts of the country people are already dying out of hunger. The war and political turmoil in the country have disrupted agriculture and left people with little choice but to scavenge for food to survive. “People have been pushed to the brink, [they are] surviving on what they can find to eat in swamps,” said Emma Jane Drew, Oxfam’s humanitarian program manager in South Sudan.
George Fominyen, the UN food program spokesman in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, added that the problem had been building for years. “It has not been sudden,” he said and pointed out that “food insecurity, hunger, malnutrition has been getting steadily worse since the conflict started three years ago.” The EU’s commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, Christos Stylianides, who recently visited South Sudan, has urged government and opposition forces to provide humanitarian organizations with access to some of the worst hit areas.
Pope Francis echoed Mr. Stylianides’ words, calling for an urgent action and saying that millions could be “condemned to death” by the famine. “Now more than ever there should be a commitment by everyone to not just talk but contribute food aid and allow it to reach suffering populations,” said Pope Francis.