Russia's war on Ukraine is killing children 3,000 miles away

New Fangak in South Sudan -- For almost three years, unprecedented rain has inundated the northern region of South Sudan, bursting the banks the Nile River and submerging all the land and farms.

02 July 2022 Saturday 07:23
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Russia's war on Ukraine is killing children 3,000 miles away

New Fangak in South Sudan -- For almost three years, unprecedented rain has inundated the northern region of South Sudan, bursting the banks the Nile River and submerging all the land and farms. South Sudan is at the forefront of climate change. This has caused devastating floods and famine.

Although the situation was already dire, the war in Ukraine, which is 3,000 miles away from the country, has made matters worse.

This war has driven up fuel and food prices and has also reduced funding for aid organizations such as the United Nations World Food Program (WFP).

Human terms translate this to Nyabany Kong going to bed every night hungry.

She used to only eat once per day. She now knows what it's like for her to look death in the eye.

Kong said to CBS News correspondent Debora Patra that it had been a while since she last ate. "I ate my last meal two weeks ago."

South Sudan is a famine area.

Kong, along with many thousands of others fled to Jonglei in central China to escape the constant flooding in the country's northern part. They can't grow the food they once grew, as their homes and crops have been destroyed by the floodwaters.

They are now on dry land. Some people claimed they caught some fish locally and even ate water lilies to help with hunger pangs. However, the majority of Jonglei residents live on WFP food rations.

Kong's five family members live on WFP rations that are meant for two.

Her husband died in the floods. Nyakong Chang, her mother-in-law, isn't sure how old she really is. However she does know that she has never been so hungry in her entire life.

Kong lost her first child to hunger, and Patta was worried about Chuol, her 10-month-old boy. Kong is so low in calories that her body can't produce enough milk to nourish her son.

Baby Chuol is just one of the hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese children who are severely malnourished and rely entirely on the WFP for survival.

Mothers bring their babies to Mona Shaikh, nutritionist at a makeshift clinic located in Jonglei's Canal Pigi District.

Shaikh stated, "We see that she's already on the red," as she examined another child's body. "She's in a very dangerous situation because if she gets one case of diarrhea or malaria, I fear, you know that any child like this, we will be very close to losing them... within days."

Each baby that was measured by CBS News while CBS News was there was "in red", meaning severely malnourished. If they didn't receive immediate medical attention, they were days away from death. Simple diarrhea can quickly drain any remaining life from their bodies.

The WFP provides food rations to most of the refugees who fled to Jonglei. Every ration contained enough food to sustain a person for three consecutive weeks. The war in Ukraine has made South Sudan's situation worse, as have other humanitarian crises.

The WFP had to reduce the amount of food and fuel it provided to South Sudanese people due to rising costs.

The aid agency used 2,100 calories per person in the rations. But Shaikh said to Patta that "in most locations now, we have to give only half." Nutritionists recommend that adults consume around 2000 calories daily, while many Americans consume nearly twice that amount. The WFP rations for South Sudan contain only 1,020 calories.

The WFP was forced to reduce not only its ration size but also the number of people it could provide them to in South Sudan. To cope with rising costs, the agency has stopped aiding 1.7 million of the 6.2 million South Sudanese people.

While President Joe Biden is preparing to meet with fellow G7 leaders next Wednesday, U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken attended a Global Food Security Summit held in Berlin on Friday. According to the top diplomat from the United States, 40 to 50 million people will be more likely to suffer from chronic hunger as a result of Russia's war on Ukraine.

He stated that Russia's blockade against Ukraine and Russia's refusal to export grain in many cases for political reasons are the only reasons.

In a statement made ahead of the G7 meeting, Catherine Russell, UNICEF Executive Director, stated that "we are now seeing extreme levels of child waste begin to catch fire." Food aid is vital, but we can't save starving children by feeding them with wheat bags. These children need therapeutic treatment now, before it's too late.

UNICEF asked the G7 countries to immediately commit $1.2 billion to help "deliver an essential package nutrition services and care to prevent what could be millions child deaths in the 15 most burdened countries."

South Sudan is one of those countries at high risk. The hungry and the desperate continue to arrive in Canal Pigi.

Patta met Nyajima, who walked for over a month to bring herself and Kang, her 8-month old baby to the nutrition clinic. Kang was quickly diagnosed as severely malnourished.

Nyakuoeh was just 18 months old when she was taken to the clinic. The lack of nutrition has made it impossible for the little girl to walk.

Patta stated that it was difficult to describe the feeling of a mother who is unable to feed her child.

This crisis's most disturbing aspect is its avoidability. There's enough food all over the globe, and the WFP has the infrastructure necessary to deliver it to South Sudanese people who are starving. But, due in part to a war that spans thousands of miles, it doesn’t have the money to save their lives.



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