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South Sudan, Republic of

Averting famine and saving lives in South Sudan

© UNICEF Video
Iman Diing and nutrition officer Judy Juru Michael talk about the situation of malnutrition in South Sudan and how UNICEF is helping.


By UNICEF South Sudan

As starvation and food insecurity grip many parts of South Sudan, UNICEF is working with partners to provide a range of nutrition services. Hear the story of a mother and her daughter who received life-saving treatment at an outpatient centre.

AWEIL STATE, South Sudan, 21 March 2017 – In South Sudan, an estimated one million people are on the brink of starvation.

Iman Diing’s baby daughter Alakii is one of them. 

“My child has not eaten since this morning,” said Iman as she holds her crying baby. “Now she is weak and I can feel it. I am nervous. It is better for me to be hungry than my child.”

Last month, famine was declared in parts of South Sudan. In Aweil State, children and their families are facing a hunger crisis at emergency and critical levels.

“The situation is extremely bad and if we don’t do enough to mitigate the situation, we will go to the catastrophe phase,” said Judy Juru Michael, UNICEF Nutrition Officer based in Aweil.

© UNICEF/UN056592/Knowles-Coursin
UNICEF Nutrition Officer Judy Jurua Michael (left) sits with Iman Diing, 20, and measures the mid-upper arm circumference of her 13-month-old daughter Alakaii at their home in Aweil, South Sudan. Michael referred Iman and her daughter Alakaii to a nearby UNICEF-supported Outpatient Therapeutic Program for malnutrition.

Today, over 270,000 children are estimated to be severely malnourished. These children are nine times more likely to die than a child who is not malnourished.

In a combined effort, UNICEF and partners are significantly scaling up the emergency response to avert a famine and save lives.

UNICEF is helping mothers and babies at the community level through a number of services, including life-saving treatment for severe malnutrition; clean water, sanitation and hygiene; malaria testing and treatment; and critical information on preventative nutritional practices including the promotion of breastfeeding.

Altogether, UNICEF aims to reach over 200,000 children who are severely malnourished. 

Iman and baby Alakii are now receiving nutrition services at an outpatient treatment centre in Aweil town.

“I want to say thank you because you understand my feelings and you came to help us,” said Iman after enrolling at the clinic. “Now I am happy.”



UNICEF Photography: South Sudan’s malnutrition crisis

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