South Sudan economy collapsing as millions begin to starve
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The awful situation in South Sudan continues to worsen as time runs out for millions of people at risk of starvation. Painfully oblivious to the peril, two warring factions continue to vie for power while aid workers scramble to save lives, often going without meals themselves.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Word continues to reach Catholic Online that the situation in South Sudan is becoming ever more depressing. Normally rich fields remain fallow as farmers stay away for fear of raids by the warring factions. Without the food they should be producing, millions are condemned to famine and malnutrition. Children are certain to starve in great numbers or to survive with debilitating conditions such as stunted development and growth.
The problem stems from an ongoing civil war between the president and former vice president of the country. Both men claim power should be theirs and their supporters are more than willing to kill over the issue. The official military force of South Sudan has spent nearly a year in clashes with rebels.
Those fights have led to a halving of the country's oil production as well as a nearly-complete collapse of farming in regions afflicted by chronic skirmishes and raids. Without income from oil or food production, the government has not been able to complete infrastructure upgrades in one of the world's most undeveloped countries. And without those upgrades, roads in particular, food surpluses in one region cannot be delivered to places where food is scarce.
Even if such redistribution could happen, there still isn't enough food to feed everybody. Inflation has spiked driving costs beyond what people can afford and pay has come late for those who can still work.
The economy of South Sudan is on life support as the government borrows money at dangerous interest rates. They have little choice. If the government stops borrowing, it will not be able to fend off rebels and feed the people. With its credit in shambles and future uncertain, even high-rate loans are becoming impossible to get.
South Sudan's oil supplies are also limited and expected to run out in coming years. Without this supply of easy cash, the nation must turn to agriculture for financing its future. However, agriculture is badly disrupted by the civil war.
Anywhere between four to five million people face near-certain malnutrition and a significant number of those, especially children, will perish in the months to come. Already the food situation is so dire that aid workers are forced to work hungry.
Famine and mass death are not only inevitable, but they have already begin taking their tolls. The death rate is low for now, but will spike as the harvest season comes without a harvest and food supplies, stretched by rationing, run out entirely.
Aid workers report going without food and other basics as every available scrap is given to those in dire need. Already malnutrition is claiming lives, mostly children. Parents often have to make the agonizing choice between feeding a child or feeding and adult who can at least work and produce income that can be spent on increasingly-expensive food.
The UN has complained that the world is not coming to the rescue of people in South Sudan, with very few countries pledging just scant amounts of money to alleviate the situation. Without strategic capital of any value, beyond a quickly drying supply of oil, many governments see money sent to South Sudan as good after bad.
From an economic and logical perspective this makes sense. In a world of limited resources, choices must be made and that sometimes means cutting aid or sending none at all to those in need.
However, the Catholic Church, other religious and charitable organizations are stepping up to the task. They won't succeed in saving all the people, but some will be saved. That's the best that can be done.
As Christians we are called to see past any return and to give charitably to those who through no fault of their own have become victims in a power struggle between two people whose interest is selfish and has nothing to do with the people they claim to rule.
The world should be speeding relief and insisting that the warring factions in South Sudan stop, but the world is clearly abandoning South Sudan to its fate. This leaves the final appeal of the people at the feet of private individuals, like you, who are literally the only thing protecting them from starvation.
This isn't hyperbole. With food becoming so scarce, every donation will make a difference, providing up to 30 meals for a child.
Your Catholic Voice Foundation is asking you to do what you can to help in this crisis. The people in South Sudan cannot relocate, they cannot plant their own crops, they are absolutely hapless victims in a power struggle between greedy powers.
We cannot save all of them, but we can save some. Will you do your part and donate one bag of Vitameal to stave off hunger?
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