Beneficiary selection famine South Sudan
Photo courtesy of ECS-SUDRA

People gather in Unity State, South Sudan, to hear about the distribution of food by MCC’s partner organization, Episcopal Church of Sudan – Sudanese Development Relief Agency (ECS-SUDRA).

Updated April 11, 2017

MCC is providing a two month supply of food in Unity State of South Sudan, the region where the United Nations recently declared a famine.

Two hundred and forty-five households will receive sorghum (grain), beans, cooking oil and salt. The distribution will take place in Rubkona County – located within Unity State – and will be carried out by MCC’s partner, Episcopal Church of Sudan - Sudanese Development Relief Agency.

Famine is a term the UN rarely uses, reserved for the most dire situations that meet specific criteria for rates of malnutrition, food shortages and death. In February the UN announced that Unity State in South Sudan meets that criteria; the first famine declaration by the UN since 2011.

The UN also warns that the world is facing the largest food crisis since the Second World War. More than 20 million people across Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and northeast Nigeria are facing or are at risk of famine.

It’s estimated that more than 40 percent of South Sudan’s population – almost 5 million people – are in urgent need of food and support for agricultural work. That number could rise to 5.5 million people by July.

In addition to our emergency response in Unity State, MCC has ongoing programs to provide urgently needed food assistance to the people of South Sudan. We are supporting South Sudanese refugees living in refugee camps in the Gambella region of Ethiopia; a shipment of MCC canned meat recently left our warehouse in Canada, and will help supplement the diet of people in the camps – mostly children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Mothers receive MCC canned meat at the distribution centre in Jewi refugee camp in Ethiopia. MCC, through partner International Medical Corps (IMC), distributes canned meat for malnourished women and children in the Jewi, Kule and Terkidi refugee camps in the Gambella region.IMC photo/Feleseta Kassaye

The ongoing conflict in South Sudan has prevented humanitarian organizations, such as MCC, from providing assistance in Unity State. As rainfall stopped during the dry season, fighting increased, forcing more people to flee from South Sudan to Ethiopia.“In South Sudan, the dry season is literally called the ‘fighting season’ because the Sudd (large swamp) dries out enough for troops and equipment to once again move around the country. People are fleeing in anticipation of forced conscription into the rebel army,” said Bruce Buckwalter, an MCC Ethiopia representative in November.

South Sudan officially gained independence from Sudan in 2011; MCC has been working in the region since the mid-1970s. Our current programs in South Sudan focus on trauma healing, nonviolence and peacebuilding training for communities affected by the conflict. We support programs that provide food to school children and help families earn a living through vocational and agricultural training.

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