Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/21/2014 (6 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Starvation is slow and painful and children are the most common victims.

With hundreds of thousands of people, especially children expected to die in South Sudan in the coming months, attention is finally being focused on malnutrition and starvation and the painful process of death which accompanies those conditions.

Parents don't like to see their children die and will save them if they can but with limited resources available, difficult choices are made and babies pay the price.

Parents don't like to see their children die and will save them if they can but with limited resources available, difficult choices are made and babies pay the price.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/21/2014 (6 months ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: South Sudan, conflict, famine, Catholic, aid


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The first bodies are already in the ground and have been for some time. These are the frail, bony bodies of babies and small children, the first of the population to die from starvation in South Sudan.

Their deaths were nearly a year in the making. The decision that led to their gruesome passing began when the president, Slava Mayardit and his former vice president, Reik Machar, engaged in a power struggle that pitted the national army against large militia groups. The two warring factions have fought for nearly a year, disrupting the civilian population, particularly in rural areas.

Come through where others fail, feed a hungry child today!

Roving bands of fighters have confiscated and consumed or destroyed food supplies and displaced possibly tens of millions of people from their farms and villages, preventing farmers from planting. Seed crops were also consumed.

Now, nearly a year later, nobody in the rural areas in South Sudan has enough food to last another year.

Already, the planting season has been missed and it is now too late to plant crops for the harvest meaning that even if a cease fire took immediate effect and lasted, the people would still be without for over a year to come - until the harvest season of 2015.

In recent months, family after family has been faced with an agonizing decision. As food supplies dwindle and aid workers are confounded by armed factions, parents must choose who will eat, and who will go without.

Some people can still work and earn money to pay skyrocketing food costs and bring some kind of food to the table. Others simply consume and offer little practical value. These others are the babies and young children, too small to work or earn money.

These children must go without, their parents making the painful decision to wean them from food -as if malnutrition were something that one could be eased into.

There's nothing easy about the wasting and starving process though.

Without food, the body has, on average, about one day's worth of reserves stored throughout. This means a person can go for a day without food and be largely unaffected. However, after that day ends, the body must dig deeper for reserves to sustain the brain and internal organs which require constant energy to operate.

The body's fat reserves are the first to go, but the body doesn't simply burn fat. At the same time, muscle tissue is broken down to provide energy. The body sets priorities on what organs are most critical and these essential organs, such as the brain, heart and lungs, are sustained while other organs are neglected.

Vitamin deficiencies and dehydration bring the worst of the symptoms. Hunger goes from pangs to constant, to a terrible burning sensation in the pit of the stomach that never goes away. It's actually painful. Bacteria and fungus, normally kept in check by the immune system, now flourish as that system scales back efficiency, deprived of essential nutrients.

The flowering of fungus in places such as the esophagus makes swallowing difficult. Without realizing it, a child with this condition has already started the process of decomposition from within, even though they are still very much alive.

The wastage of muscle tissue makes the child weak and skin becomes dry and cracks without moisture. Imagine the pain you feel when your skin becomes dry. This pain appears at the joints where the skin is expected to expand and contract with movement.

By this point, the child's bones are now visible throughout the body, the muscles are so wasted that they look like a skeleton.

Eventually, a deep fatigue sets in and the child can hardly move. Babies stop crying and older victims no longer struggle to survive, now they enter the final stage which is characterized by extreme apathy and in women can result in irregular menstruation. Victims who reach this stage are largely doomed. They simply lie in one spot, flies and parasites begin to feast on the body.

Children can barely whimper and must be carried. Many families leave them in a corner, waiting for them to die in painful misery so they can mourn and fear the same happening to them.

These families do not make this decision lightly. They are choosing the path of least harm from their perspective, letting one die so the rest has a fighting chance to live. Unfortunately, as food becomes even scarcer, more families must make this choice.

What would you do when faced with this? How do you go on without any food available for hundreds of miles around? Shuffling bands of refugees have wondered the countryside, hungry and anxious for any help. Lucky ones have found their way into refugee camps where they are held as virtual prisoners, unable to leave the crowded makeshift tent-cities because that's the only place they can get food.

Officials for the World Health Organization have warned that death by starvation is inevitable for thousands of people, certainly children, and the only question is how many. The world, it seems, is not very interested in providing the aid it needs to save the people of this region. Only a fraction of the desperately requested food aid has been pledged or sent.

Aid workers routinely skip meals themselves because of the dire nature of the situation. Regretfully, they will run out of food before feeding all the people in the months to come, forcing many families to make the gruesome decision to watch their youngest and neediest children die slowly of malnutrition.

There is one ray of hope in all this darkness, and it's you the person who cares enough to make a gift of food to people in dire need. Right now, Your Catholic Voice Foundation is refocusing aid efforts on South Sudan and will send food contributions there. If you can help, please do so now. We cannot save everybody, but saving one is a difference made, and today you can be that difference.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Africa

NO IMPROVEMENT: Egypt falls far in protecting female population, report says Watch

Image of Egyptian authorities had failed to prevent, investigate and punish violence against women and girls, according to a new report.

By Kieran Guilbert, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Token legal reforms have failed to end widespread public, domestic and state violence against women and girls in Egypt, who face sexual abuse, mob attacks and torture in custody, a rights group report said on Wednesday. LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Despite ... continue reading


'Tip of the iceberg' Boko Haram leader warns MORE DEATHS are coming in latest video Watch

Image of Leader of the dreaded terrorist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"This is just the beginning of killings," warns Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau in Boko Haram's latest rant video. Following Boko Haram's most deadliest massacre, killing 2,500 people in Baga, the terrorist group is after those who have shown pity on France and the ... continue reading


Criminal network roils in the Sahel: Arrests made by Algerian law enforcement Watch

Image of The investigations of the A.N.P. or People's National Army of Algeria have led to the arrest of criminals operating in the Sahel region.

By Kaci Racelma, Catholic Online

The investigations of the A.N.P. or People's National Army of Algeria have led to the arrest of criminals operating in the Sahel region. Operating in the areas of Tamanrasset, Bordj Badji Mokhtar and Guezzam in the Sixth military Region, twelve smugglers - ... continue reading


Algerian army standing fast against tide of terrorism Watch

Image of Accomplished

By Kaci Racelma, Catholic Online

The Algerian army, confronted by the harsh realities as experienced in the Sahel and Nigeria, with large swathes of land under the iron fist of jihadists, remains steadfast in its stance against terrorism. The eradication of terrorist groups is essential in ... continue reading


More than a million Nigerians may have been forced to flee due to Boko Haram, U.N. says Watch

Image of The militants' attacks may force even more people to flee, both internally and to Cameroon, Niger and Chad, which could destabilize the region.

By Misha Hussain, Thomson Reuters Foundation

More than one million people may have been forced to leave their homes in northern Nigeria by the five-year-old insurgency of Islamist sect Boko Haram, a United Nations agency said. DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The militants' attacks may force even more ... continue reading


BOKO HARAM MARCHES ONWARD: Attacks in Cameroon cause thousands to flee for their lives Watch

Image of Troops from Chad began to arrive on the same day, to support their fight against the militants.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ten thousand Cameroonians have fled with their lives after incursions from the dreaded terrorist group Boko Haram along the border regions with Nigeria's Borno State. The Islamic militant group has massacred over 2,000 people in two northeastern towns over the ... continue reading


When will the West wake up? Nigerian Bishop says only Western powers can defeat Boko Haram and save Christians from genocide Watch

Image of Boko Haram has waged a war of terror in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, often targeting Christians and killing them or burning down their houses of worship.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri, who leads a diocese in north-eastern Nigeria, says that the only way in which Boko Haram -an Islamist terrorist organization operating in northern Nigeria - can be defeated is by intervention from Western powers. LOS ... continue reading


BREAKTHROUGH? Peace talks in Mali could lead to end to terrorism in Sahel region Watch

Image of The Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ramtane Lamamra has reiterated his country's efforts to settle the conflict in the north of Mali in talks scheduled for next month.

By Kaci Racelma, Catholic Online

The African nation of Algeria has been working with both Malian government officials and Tuareg rebels in order to end the roiling civil war in Mali. The Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ramtane Lamamra has reiterated his country's efforts to settle the ... continue reading


Niger declares war on Christianity! Boko Haram incites violence following Charlie Hebdo publication Watch

Image of Niger erupted in protests which resulted in 10 deaths, hundreds of injuries and burning of churches and other Christian institutions over the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad on the cover of Charlie Hebdo.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Following the recent depiction of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad on the cover of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, Niger has erupted in violence that has left at least 10 people dead and 45 churches burnt. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hotels, bars, a Christian ... continue reading


Is peace on the horizon? After several months of intense fear, warring parties in Libya declare ceasefire Watch

Image of Fajr Libya, or Dawn of Libya, a coalition of Islamist factions announced a cease-fire on all fronts late last week.

By Kaci Racelma, Catholic Online

There is a glimmer of hope in Libya. After several months of war and violence, that has almost brought the nations to its knees. Both the Fajr militia Libya and the Libyan army announced a ceasefire on Sunday ALGIERS, ALGERIA (Catholic Online) - This North ... continue reading


All Africa News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to Jonah a second ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
4 DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 1:14-20
14 After John had been arrested, Jesus went into ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 7:29-31
29 What I mean, brothers, is that the time has become ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 25th, 2015 Image

St. Peter Thomas
January 25: Carmelite Latinpatriarch and papal legate. Peter was born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter