Photo and blog entry by Carla Fibla Garcia-Sala
Due to the quick surge in food insecurity for millions of South Sudanese, Action Against Hunger has deployed our Nutrition Emergency Team (NET) to tackle the current threats and prepare for the growing needs of the population. The number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) has risen to 1.1 million this month— a staggering number that has a huge effect on food insecurity in South Sudan.
The Bentiu camp, located in the northern part of the country, currently hosts over 40,000 IDPs and is growing every day as more individuals and families arrive seeking shelter and basic necessities. More than 5,000 children in the camp need urgent treatment for malnutrition, and our team will begin their intervention this week.
On Tuesday, we received a shipment of the necessary supplies our team needs for the intervention in Bentiu. In an area where conflict is ongoing and supply chains are difficult to maintain, our shipment is vital to the health of those in the Bentiu camp, and our intervention is necessary for those who are suffering the most. Many people arrive at the camp in shock— they’ve lost their belongings, they’ve lost their homes, and often they show signs of malnutrition and disease after their long journeys. NGOs in the area have reported that at least three children die each day in Bentiu, and that they simply do not have the capacity to treat all the children in need of help.
Our Nutrition Emergency Team will deliver 1,000 boxes of Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods to Bentiu over the next few days to help curb the high levels of malnutrition; these shelf-stable, weather-resistant peanut-based bars are nutritional powerhouses packed with protein and key micronutrients that help return malnourished children to health. We are also sending enough operational supplies to ensure that our emergency team of 40 can act swiftly once they arrive. Special scales designed to weigh children suffering from malnutrition as well as measuring tapes and other supplies are scheduled to arrive once our therapeutic center and stabilization centers are set up. The ability to activate a nutrition emergency response on short notice is one of the most important characteristics of our work in South Sudan right now.
“The Nutrition Emergency Team is ready to work anywhere in South Sudan and can be fully operational within two weeks. Our intervention includes a team of 40, three therapeutic outpatient clinics, and a stabilization center to treat children with medical complications. We have the capacity to help more than 1,500 children over the next three months.”
-Oscar Serrano, Nutrition Emergency Coordinator, in Juba, South Sudan
We have been on the ground in what is now South Sudan for almost 20 years, implementing long-term malnutrition programs and providing access to clean water. Our experience in South Sudan and our expertise in emergency response management give us the means to have a real impact in the Bentiu camp—working diligently to treat malnourished children and ensure that the families who arrive, who have already suffered hardship and loss, are provided the support they so desperately need. While the situation in South Sudan is dire, our Nutrition Emergency Team begins their work this week determined to save lives and assist many of the people in South Sudan who need it most.