South Sudan: Crisis as conflict brings food shortages

South Sudan: Crisis as conflict brings food shortages

Michael Morrah's trip to South Sudan was made possible with support from World Vision. You can donate to the South Sudan crisis appeal here.

The United Nations says unprecedented food shortages in South Sudan could affect more than 5 million people.

The worsening hunger is linked to the ongoing tribal conflict, which has forced more than 2 million from their homes.

It's stopped the planting of crops, and drought has led to poor harvests.

The economy is also in ruins. The Sudanese pound has dropped in value, leading to record high food prices.

Thousands are now living inside UN-protected camps, leaving it up to aid agencies to carefully manage the allocation of rations. Newshub visited one of these camps in the capital, Juba.

The heavily guarded UN camp holds 21,000 people displaced by war. It's where Michael Chot and his family have been living since intertribal violence erupted in December 2013.

"It was a day that we cannot forget," he says. "I was sitting in my house and was surprised as someone started shooting."

He ran to his neighbours, only to find a woman and her three-day-old baby had been shot.

"Children have died. I lost three boys. They were shot with the gun."

David Boum is just 16 years old. He too witnessed horrific atrocities.

"Even the young guys they will kill with the knife," says David. "It's so hard, so hard."

Even young boys and girls were killed. Given the terror, it's easy to see why the camp is the only place they feel safe.

But living there presents many challenges. It's no place to raise a young family.

"We don't have good medicines, especially for the kids and the old people," says displaced person Bejien Geil.

Food is the other major problem. There's a lot of activity as rations are distributed by World Vision.

Hundreds wait in caged holding areas. Twenty are let through at a time and hand over cards they can exchange for grains, oil and salt. It's a strictly managed, and at times tense, process.

The camp is the biggest "protection of civilian" site in Juba. People come through carrying food -- their rations for the month. UN staff ensure everything is conducted in an orderly manner.

Every single person we come across has a story of loss. They have either lost family members, they've lost homes or they've lost businesses.

"Most of these households do not have their own livelihoods or means of getting food," says World Vision project manager Gift Sibanda. "They solely depend on the food we are giving here."

Mr Sibanda helps coordinate food distribution. But thousands in the camp are not registered, putting pressure on already scare resources.

"They are forced to share the food that we give them," says Mr Sibanda. "It means the food that they have doesn't last the 30 days that is required."

We followed Nyat Machar as she collected her rations.

"The food is not enough," she says. "I'm sharing with 10 others."

She and her family want to leave, but she says that will only happen when lasting peace comes to South Sudan.


Michael Morrah's trip to South Sudan was made possible with support from World Vision.

If you would like to contribute to life-saving aid for the people of South Sudan, you can donate to World Vision’s crisis appeal today.