1.4 million children malnourished in South Sudan: charity

Cases of malaria and snakebites are also soaring, it said, with children and women particularly hard hit. PHOTO: AFP

NAIROBI - About 1.4 million children under the age of five are suffering from malnutrition in South Sudan, caught in the grip of widespread flooding and intercommunal conflict, the British charity Save the Children said on Friday.

It said the world's youngest country, which has a largely rural population, is reeling from "its worst hunger crisis" since independence from Sudan in 2011.

"The situation has deteriorated in recent months with more than 615,000 people impacted by an unprecedented fourth consecutive year of large-scale flooding, destroying homes, crops," Save the Children said in a statement.

Cases of malaria and snakebites are also soaring, it said, with children and women particularly hard hit.

The flooding coupled with a vicious circle of often deadly interethnic conflict has uprooted thousands of people from their homes, the charity said, urging the international community to not "overlook South Sudan or to divert funding to other crises".

Around 909,000 people have been affected by flooding across nine out of 10 states, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday.

South Sudan, like many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, has suffered from the fallout of the war in Ukraine which has sent global prices of food and fuel soaring.

The value of the local currency has also slumped by nearly 40 per cent this year, Save the Children said.

The UN's World Food Programme warned in March that more than 70 per cent of South Sudan's 11 million people would face extreme hunger this year because of natural disasters and violence.

Save the Children called on leaders planning to attend November's COP27 climate summit in Egypt to increase funding to help vulnerable communities and children build resilience against climate disasters and shocks.

"The first generation of South Sudan children are growing up now and we must not fail them by allowing South Sudan to become a forgotten crisis," said country director Jib Rabiltossaporn.

One of the poorest nations on the planet despite large oil reserves, South Sudan has lurched from crisis to crisis since independence, spending almost half of its life as a nation at war. AFP

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