16 May 2014, Norway: Plan International will lobby on May 20 for increased support for the South Sudan hunger crisis. Norway is set to host an international conference to help address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
The global children’s charity will ask donors to up their humanitarian aid to the country, where more than a million people have fled their homes.
Education and protection emphasis
The charity also wants more emphasis to be put on education and child protection needs. Many children have been separated from their families or gone missing during the conflict and children are also at risk of recruitment into armed groups and sexual violence.
Some 1.3 million people are displaced internally or as refugees. Out of this, 490,310 are children. They are in acute need of protection and continuing their education.
Four million men, women and children are in need of food, and this figure will increase dramatically unless extensive emergency relief is made available, says the charity.
Plan emphasises that only 42.5% of the required humanitarian aid has been pledged so far. Total humanitarian aid of US $1.27 billion has been requested.
Generation at risk
“The gap in funding for relief efforts in South Sudan is impacting the lives of millions of people and failing a whole generation of children,” said Dr Unni Krishnan, head of disaster response and preparedness for Plan International.
“The food shortage and malnutrition levels are extremely high, and South Sudan is heading for the worst food crisis in 30 years. At stake are the lives of millions of people. Donors need to act now and put in more money immediately to prevent a famine.”
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since December 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused his former vice president, Riek Machar, of leading a failed coup attempt against his regime.
Reports indicate that the conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives and the UN has warned that some 50,000 South Sudanese children are at risk of dying of malnutrition this year if the situation isn't addressed.
Five months of fighting have seriously undermined South Sudan’s food security and aid agencies are warning of risks of a possible famine in 2014 if urgent supplies do not get through.
Plan welcomes this donor conference and believes that collaborative work between donor governments, civil society and UN agencies are instrumental to raise more resources, better attention and thus stop the hunger crisis in South Sudan.
Plan calls for resources for short-term relief efforts that are needed on an urgent basis as well as long-term resilience building measures.
Dr Krishnan added: “The South Sudan crisis is a severely underfunded crisis. By the end of the year about half the population will have been displaced. Donors need to be more generous and act now.
“In addition to lifesaving and life-sustaining relief efforts, for thousands of children who are hit hard by the complex crisis, education and protection are also key. Donors must ensure that needs of children, especially education and protection, are priorities. Education and protection are not usually priorities for donors.”
In 2014, of the total allocation for humanitarian work at the global level from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, only 1.51% has been allocated for education. Protection and human rights related work has received 7.04%.
Education is critical for children and youth affected by conflict. Many children have witnessed or experienced traumatising events. Education and psychological first aid help children heal.
In South Sudan, thousands of children and youth are unable to attend school due to insecurity. Many schools remain closed and parents are scared to send their children to school, while many schools are being occupied by either armed forces or displaced people.
“The needs of children, including their protection and education, must also be a priority in donors’ response to this crisis when funding decisions are made. It is time to change this. We shouldn’t fail the children of South Sudan,” said Dr Krishnan.
Plan has been operating in South Sudan since 2006, focusing on food security and nutrition, education, youth livelihoods, child protection and humanitarian support.
As well as its response in South Sudan, it has also already started to respond to the refugee emergency in neighbouring countries Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.