UNICEF urges immediate action to tackle food shortages in Southern Sudan

Woman and child at an outpatient therapeutic care centre near Malual Bai, Southern Sudan

12 November 2009 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called for greater efforts to prevent the food shortages in parts of Southern Sudan, caused by poor rains and made worse by insecurity, from escalating into a deeper crisis.

“Now is the time to act. Everybody needs to do their best to stop this humanitarian emergency, which is already affecting 1.5 million people across Southern Sudan,” Hilde F. Johnson, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, said after her three-day visit to the region.

During her fact-finding mission, Ms. Johnson visited communities in Jonglei State which has been the hardest hit by the food shortages, as well as by increased levels of insecurity.

She also travelled to Malakal, Akobo and Bor, where she visited therapeutic feeding centres and saw for herself the impact of food shortages on mothers and severely malnourished children.

“Children are the most vulnerable to nutritional shocks and they are the first to succumb when there is not enough food in the home or the community,” she noted.

UNICEF has responded to the crisis by providing therapeutic food through its partners which has been used to treat severely malnourished children in 79 therapeutic outreach centres across Southern Sudan supported by the agency.

Ms. Johnson welcomed the immediate response of the World Food Programme (WFP) to the problem, but also called on donors and the Government of Southern Sudan to increase their assistance.

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