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21 FEB 2017

‘Man-made’ famine declared in parts of South Sudan Oxfam urges public to donate to save lives

The United Nations (UN) declared a famine in parts of South Sudan on 20 February (Monday). Oxfam Hong Kong is allocating HK$3.2 million to support relief efforts for the people of South Sudan, and calling on the public to donate to save lives.

The situation in South Sudan is dire. With the country’s prolonged conflict, which erupted in December 2013, coupled with crop failure and the rapid increase in food prices, 100,000 people are now facing starvation. Nearly 5 million people – or 40 per cent of the country’s population – are also in urgent need of food and help, especially women and children. An estimated 1.5 million people from South Sudan have also fled to neighbouring countries like Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya to seek refuge from the conflict.

Oxfam has been implementing poverty alleviation projects in South Sudan and neighbouring areas for over 30 years. Over the past year, it has provided food, water distribution and other relief to more than 600,000 people in the country. Humanitarian relief workers are still working in South Sudan, including Unity State where a famine was declared.

As the situation continues to deteriorate, Oxfam will step up its humanitarian response in the short run, and will focus on providing such relief items as food, drinking water and hygiene kits in the most affected areas. In Nguenyyiel camp –the refugee camp in Ethiopia which borders South Sudan, Oxfam will also set up water supply system, sanitation facilities, provide people with the daily necessities of life and promote hygiene to prevent the spread of disease within the camp.

Mayling Chan, Oxfam’s International Programme Director, said: ‘After the famine that hit Somalia in 2011 claimed the lives of 260,000 people, the world said never again. But now famine has been declared in South Sudan. This is a man-made tragedy and we are running out of time to stop it from getting any worse. In over 30 years working in the affected areas, Oxfam has never witnessed such dire need. Vulnerable people, out of reach of life-saving assistance due to the conflict, have been pushed to the brink of surviving. We cannot miss out on any opportunities to save people’s lives again. We must do everything in our power to stop this crisis from worsening.’


Notes to editors: Three key conditions need to be met before a famine is declared: 1. At least 20 per cent of households need to be facing an extreme shortage in food and have limited ability to cope (i.e. at least one-fifth of the population does not have access to 2,100 calories a day). 2. More than two out of every 10,000 people die each day. 3. Over 30 per cent of the population is seriously malnourished.

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