Aid agencies in South Sudan warn that funds are urgently needed to stop the spread of famine

Twenty-seven humanitarian agencies working in South Sudan have warned that unless substantial funds are immediately provided to those working on the ground, organisations will struggle to stop famine spreading across the country in the next few months. The statement follows Monday’s declaration of famine in parts of the country.

The UN has appealed for $1.6 billion to cope with the crisis and pledges have already been made in recent days by the UK (£100m) and the EU (82m Euros) - but the money is needed urgently for those on the ground before the rains start in April, which would make the delivery of aid even more difficult. The aid organisations say that if their requests are not urgently acted upon, the number of people going hungry could increase to more than 5.5 million by July 2017.

Sara Almer, Oxfam South Sudan Country Director said: “If we are going to stop the spread of famine, now is the time to act – and fast, as the rainy season, which can immensely slow down aid delivery, is due to start in April. Funds need to be released immediately to aid agencies on the ground, so that they can straightaway start delivering the help that people need. With every day that passes, the risk of losing more lives increases”.

Aid agencies also highlighted that lack of access due to conflict can prevent aid workers quickly reaching those who need it most.

Pete Walsh, Country Director of Save the Children said: “The violence in South Sudan has made the country extremely dangerous for both its people and those trying to help them. In the last three years, at least 71 aid workers have been killed, the vast majority being South Sudanese. We not only need funds to be released quickly to reach the desperately hungry, which includes over 1 million children at risk of starvation, we need it to be safe for us to reach them”.

Perry Mansfield, Country Director from World Vision added: “It has been proven time and time again that when both access and swift funding is made available to humanitarian agencies in South Sudan, not only are lives saved but development gains are made”.

The statement was signed by Oxfam, Save the Children, World Vision, Care, Mercy Corps, IRC, DRC, ACF, Warchild, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe, Plan International, CAFOD & Troicare in Partnership, Christian Aid, American Refugee Council, Intersos, Premiere Urgence International, Finn Church Aid, Solidarites, World Relief, International Aid, Relief International, Swiss Church Aid, ZOA South Sudan, Cordaid, Norwegian Church Aid, Tearfund, DCA