South Sudan. Woman With Her Children.

Aker Monychol Biar with her children at the Transit Center in Malakal. Aker is a 32-years-old woman from Malakal who moved to Sudan with her four children last year after her husband passed away. She worked at the simsim farms to support her family but decided to come back to South Sudan after war broke out in Sudan. “We travelled by car up to the border and from Renk we took a boat to Malakal” “When we came we didn’t have anything but thankfully WFP gave us food” “Now I want to stay in Malakal and start a business here” More than 264,000 people have crossed into South Sudan from Sudan since the start of the crisis in April 2023. Around 81% of them have arrived through the Joda border point in Renk County, Upper Nile State, and then travel to Renk town where they stay in the Transit Center until they can continue their journey. IOM supports returnees with onward transportation, first travelling to Malakal by boat and later with transport to their final destination by boat, plane and/or land transport. WFP provides High Energy Biscuits (HEB) upon arrival at the border and before their boat journey to Malakal. At the Transit Centers in Renk and Malakal, WFP has been providing food or cash assistance to the returnees as well as nutrition support to malnourished mothers and children. Overall, WFP has provided nearly 250,000 people with in-kind food assistance and/or cash-transfers, as well as high-energy biscuits, and nutrition treatment and prevention support since the start of the response. More than 200,000 people have been assisted in Renk alone. While many have faced arduous journeys to get to this point, they still have a long and difficult journey ahead to the communities they wish to settle in South Sudan. They are arriving in a country that is facing a deteriorating humanitarian situation itself with 63% of the population facing acute food insecurity this year (according to April to July 2023 IPC projections).

Children in flood-affected parts of South Sudan are expected to face extreme levels of malnutrition in the first half of 2024 as the climate crisis tightens its grip on the country, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.

Rubkona, a county where floodwaters have permanently submerged entire communities or trapped them on small islands since 2021, is at the very frontline of the flooding and projected to face exceptionally high levels and severity of malnutrition by April 2024.

Data from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) shows more than 1.6 million children under five years of age are expected to suffer from malnutrition in 2024. Flood-affected areas are facing the worst malnutrition due to the spread of waterborne diseases and crowded conditions, aggravated by limited access to food and livelihoods.

“This is the reality of living on the frontline of the climate crisis,” warned Mary-Ellen McGroarty, WFP Representative to South Sudan. “We’re seeing an extremely concerning rise in malnutrition which is a direct result of living in overcrowded and waterlogged conditions. The spread of waterborne diseases unravels any work humanitarian agencies do in preventing and treating malnutrition and it is  young children who are suffering the impact most severely.”

Rubkona is predicted to be in IPC Acute Malnutrition Phase 5 by April 2024, for the first time ever. This is the highest possible level and reflects the flood crisis that has submerged the entire county for the past two years, alongside severe economic shocks that have seen the cost of staple foods rise by more than 120 percent since April. The flooding is driven by outflows from Nile River basins, particularly Lake Victoria which received above-average rainfall in 2023 – meaning there is no relief from the floodwaters in sight.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a comprehensive food security and nutrition analysis. The IPC shows more than seven million people will be facing acute food insecurity through the 2024 lean season with the number of people facing catastrophic hunger (IPC5) expected to rise to 79,000 by April. This increase is largely due to South Sudanese returnees fleeing fighting in Sudan, as they will face increasingly extreme levels of food insecurity. WFP is grappling with significant funding constraints and the resourcing outlook for 2024 remains grim, it’s expected only one-third of the moderately malnourished children in need of treatment will be reached due to a shortage of funds.   

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