An Irishwoman has issued a stark warning about malnutrition in war-torn South Sudan, where she heads up 350 Concern workers.
“The level of malnutrition is getting worse, especially among young children and vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and people living with disabilities,” said Concern Worldwide South Sudan country director, Fiona McLysaght.
“There are 2m people that have had to leave their homes, and 1.8m people, 1m of whom are children, have fled the country and are living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries,” added the Clare woman.
South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, but since 2013 a civil war, displacing millions of people, has raged there.
Ms McLysaght said her team provides life-saving assistance to pregnant women and children under the age of five, who are most vulnerable to malnutrition.
“We are treating malnourished children and women in one of the counties, Leer, where famine was declared in February, and although this status has been withdrawn, 1.7m people are still on the brink of starvation.”
She described the look of a child experiencing malnutrition.
“A hungry child looks sad and scared. Their skin is dull and sagging, their frame is small and fragile and they have no energy to walk, talk or play. The inquisitive look of a well-fed child is replaced with vacant stares.”
said the number of children aged under five facing acute malnutrition in East Africa is nine times Ireland’s population of under-fives.
“Humanitarian aid will help to save lives and alleviate suffering, but without a political solution the situation looks dire,” said Ms McLysaght.
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