Jersey Responds to East Africa Famine
On 20 February famine was officially declared in South Sudan, the first time this has happened anywhere in the world for six years. In technical terms, this means that the situation has reached level 5 of the Integrated Phase Classification of Food Security. In practical terms, it means that people are actually dying of hunger.
Jersey Overseas Aid has been following the deteriorating situation closely. In 2016 JOA made eight emergency grants of £30,000 to agencies working to alleviate the crisis. The additional £200,000 announced today will be split between the British Red Cross and Plan International.
The money will pay for food rations, hygiene kits, water purification tablets, shelter items and essential medical supplies. Carolyn Labey, Chair of Jersey Overseas Aid, commented: “Jersey will not stand by while people die of starvation. We are in constant contact with the major relief agencies, and are directing our response to the places it is needed the most.”
A major cause of the situation is the past three years of conflict, which has led to widespread displacement of people, economic collapse and disruption to agriculture. However, the crisis is exacerbated by severe drought, which has ruined crops and killed millions of livestock in other countries in East Africa. As always, sickness follows in hunger’s wake: diseases such as cholera are joining acute malnutrition as a major public health emergency.
1.1 million people in South Sudan face imminent starvation; War-torn Somalia is also on the brink of famine; Kenya has declared a national emergency because of the drought; Ethiopia has 5.6m in need of food assistance and 435,000 children already suffering from severe acute malnutrition; and Uganda is struggling to cope with around 750,000 desperate S. Sudanese refugees, a number rising by 4,000 every day.
The modern humanitarian system has never had to cope with so many children needing treatment for hunger at the same time. Overall, more than 20 million people across the region need urgent assistance. As the UN Secretary General António Guterres warned, “The lives of millions of people depend on our collective ability to act. We have heard the alerts. Now there is no time to lose.”
Tanya Barron, CEO at Plan International UK, said “We are incredibly grateful for this grant from Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA), which will go towards helping millions of people on the brink of starvation in the drought and famine affected areas of East Africa.”
Ben Webster, Head of Emergencies at the British Red Cross, said “Hundreds of thousands of people in South Sudan are in a desperate situation without shelter, food or access to safe water. Families have been separated and many people who fled the fighting are now living in the bush. They are in urgent need of help. We would like to thank the people of Jersey and the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission for their support in reaching those in need.”
The announcement coincides with the launch of an appeal for East Africa by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). Jersey residents who wish to help are encouraged to donate through the DEC appeal, which supports 13 major UK relief agencies.