The United Nation's Children's Fund and the UN World Food Program announced Friday the start of a joint emergency operation to deliver needed supplies to 250,000 people in South Sudan.
Using helicopters and air drops, the joint mission is first focused on Akobo in Jonglei State, near the Ethiopian border. Assistance efforts will then extend to Upper Nile and Unity states with 14 missions planned throughout April.
Joint emergency response efforts will enable WFP to provide "food and vital specialized nutrition products for children; while UNICEF will distribute water and sanitation kits to families as well ready-to-use therapeutic food for malnourished children. The UN Children’s Fund will also immunize children against polio and measles, distribute recreational activities, set up emergency education, and register and support unaccompanied children."
Violence broke out in South Sudan on December 15, 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused his fired deputy, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup. Fighting between forces loyal to the two men has continued since December, with the political dispute devolving into an ethnic conflict.
"The violence in South Sudan has massively disrupted livelihoods as families and livestock have been displaced, households looted and markets destroyed, with regular aid interrupted ..."
The UN estimates that more than 3.7 million people are at risk of severe food insecurity, disease, and malnutrition as an effect of the violence.
“Children and families in South Sudan are now facing unprecedented suffering -- with worrying signs of malnutrition and disease outbreaks ... With the rainy season looming we have to seize every opportunity to rapidly deploy teams and life-saving supplies to the hardest to reach. This is how we will avert a humanitarian catastrophe," said UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan, Jonathan Veitch.