Reaching out to starving children in South Sudan

Acutely malnourished one-year-old boy Nyabiel is weighed in a hospital in Ganyliel, South Sudan. Acute malnutrition is a life-threatening condition, particularly among infants. Photo: Jürgen Bätz/dpa/NEWSCOM

This post has been updated with new information.

South Sudan is no longer classified as being in a famine. The crisis continues to be severe, however, as the number of people at risk of starvation continues to increase. [source]

Famine has been declared in two counties in South Sudan. It’s the first declaration of famine since 2011, the same year South Sudan officially became and independent country.

The famine crisis is caused in part by a severe food crisis, fueled by drought and compounded by a civil war that has killed 50,000 people and displaced nearly 2 million since December 2013. Conditions are exacerbated by extreme poverty, poor infrastructure and lack of access to services such as health care, education, water and sanitation.

The below graphic from the United Nations World Food Program illustrates the urgency of this situation.

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LWR is responding

Lutheran World Relief (LWR) is partnering with IMA World Health to set up and run life-saving medical centers that will treat young children at risk of death from starvation.

LWR and IMA World Health will run three treatment centers in the Great Upper Nile Region in northern South Sudan in areas where there are no other emergency medical facilities, and will focus on children under 5 who are so severely malnourished that they are near death. Many of these children are also suffering from malaria or diseases causing severe diarrhea, which exacerbate malnutrition. Children and mothers nursing infants will receive 24-hour care until they are disease-free and the children reach a healthy weight.

LWR will also run an outpatient monitoring and feeding program for children, as well as women who are pregnant or nursing, who are malnourished but not at immediate risk of death and can be treated at home. The treatment centers will serve an area with a population of 290,000, of whom an estimated 4,200 are currently suffering from severe malnutrition. Another 11,000 people are believed to be moderately malnourished.

You can help

Please support our response in South Sudan, and around the world as needs arise. Here’s what you can do:

  • Pray for the people of South Sudan, and those who are working to help them.
  • Make LWR Quilts & Kits to send around the world to people in need.
  • Give a gift to our South Sudan famine fund so that we can continue to reach out to children in dire need