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Diocesan News

Millions on edge of food crisis

By Amanda Thorsteinsson


WINNIPEG — Millions of displaced people in South Sudan continue to be on the brink of a major food crisis as the country’s violent conflict continues.

“We are deeply concerned for the well-being of the people of South Sudan,” says Foodgrains Bank International Program director Barbara Macdonald.

“Increases in violence could quickly become catastrophic for many of the most vulnerable people, especially children.”

According to UNICEF, at least 229,000 children in South Sudan are estimated to be suffering from severe acute malnutrition, a number that has doubled since the start of the conflict a little over a year ago.

And in a population of only 11 million people, 4.1 million people are estimated to require humanitarian assistance in the coming months, with 2.5 million people at risk of crisis levels of food insecurity.

In a nation where much of the population relies on small-scale agriculture for survival, not being able to grow crops or tend livestock because of the fighting that has driven them off their land can have devastating consequences.

“Missed crop cycles in conflict-ravaged parts of the country mean we’re now expecting household food stocks in the worst-affected counties to run out by March 2015 — much earlier than in a normal year,” said United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization official Sue Lautze in a release.

The Foodgrains Bank, through its members, is responding, both in more peaceful areas of the country, as well as in areas that have experienced conflict.

Foodgrains Bank members ADRA Canada, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, World Relief Canada, and World Renew have responded with projects worth a total of $2.4 million, while the United Church of Canada, Presbyterian World Service and Development, and the Mennonite Central Committee contributed funding to these responses.

“The ongoing challenges we are faced with as we try to respond to the crisis in South Sudan are large, but not insurmountable,” adds Macdonald. “We invite Canadians to join us in praying for lasting peace for the people of South Sudan.”

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