AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Child malnutrition rates skyrocket: +73% compared to 2013

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Leer (Agenzia Fides) - Rates of malnutrition have skyrocketed in parts of Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei States since conflict erupted in South Sudan in December (see Fides 10/07/2014). More than 13,270 children, most under the age of five, have been admitted to MSF feeding programmes in South Sudan so far this year, amounting to 73 percent of the 18,125 admissions during the whole of 2013. In the town of Leer, MSF teams were treating 40 malnutrition cases each month before the outbreak of hostilities. More than 1,000 new cases per month are now being treated. Violence, displacement, and food shortages are the leading causes of the spike in malnutrition rates and the increasing numbers of children requiring urgent medical care in some locations where MSF is working. In Unity State, the scale of the malnutrition became clear when people who had been displaced by fighting returned to the town of Leer in May, following months living in the bush. MSF has admitted more people for malnutrition during just the last two months (2,810 cases in May and June 2014) than in all of 2013 (2,142 malnutrition cases). In Bentiu, a specialised MSF facility set up in May 2014 to treat severely malnourished people suffering from medical complications, including diarrhoea, chest infections and dehydration, has already admitted 239 children, of whom 42 have died.
In Jonglei state, MSF facilities in Lankien and Yuai have seen a 60% increase in admissions in the first six months of the year compared to the same period last year, from an average of 175 per month in 2013 to 290 admissions per month in 2014 so far.
In Upper Nile State, MSF teams have admitted 2,064 people, mostly children, in the area north of Malakal. A recent mortality survey carried out there revealved very high death rates. The vast numbers of displaced people in the bush have lost their cattle, crops, seeds and farming implements. They are trying to survive on a diet of roots and leaves, while living amidst muddy swamp water. The violence has interrupted planting and has prevented crop harvesting. Existing food stocks have been destroyed or looted. Markets have been disrupted and roads are impassable due to the conflict. The ongoing rainy season and annual “lean season” are exacerbating the food crisis. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 22/07/2014)