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Disaster & Conflict

Millions of Children in Desperate Need as East Africa Food Crisis Worsens

WASHINGTON - Plan International is calling on the international community to take immediate and urgent action to help the millions of girls and boys at risk of starvation in East Africa in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since 1945.

In South Sudan alone, almost 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition this year. Plan is particularly concerned about the impact of the emergency on girls who often suffer the worst consequences during disaster situations.

Roland Angerer, Plan International’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, said: “We know from experience that girls are the ones who suffer most in these situations: in addition to the lack of food and water, the levels of child trafficking, sexual violence, and early marriages tend to rise significantly during times of distress. In previous emergencies when families struggled to survive, many underage girls were sold into child marriage in exchange for livestock—there is no doubt this will happen again.”

In total, 4.9 million people – more than 40 percent of South Sudan's population – are still in need of urgent food, agriculture, and nutrition assistance. This figure is likely to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis.

Daniel Muchena, Plan International’s Country Director in South Sudan said: “We are facing the horrible specter of children dying in huge numbers if we do not take immediate action. The capacities of local populations have been stretched to their limits due to ongoing conflict and the food crisis is now pushing them to a tipping point. The international community must act now before it is too late.”

Other countries in East Africa are also grappling with the food crisis. More than 20 million people, including millions of children across South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia are in urgent need of food.

Plan International is working in Kenya providing urgent food supplies and lifesaving humanitarian support to children and families. In Uganda, Ethiopia, and Sudan, our programs there are addressing the needs of the South Sudanese refugees as they arrive.

Plan International is deploying specialists to scale up its humanitarian response in the region. These specialists have extensive experience of working in disaster situations, particularly addressing the needs of children.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Plan International experts are available for media interviews.

About Plan International USA

Plan International USA, part of the Plan International Federation, is a child-centered development organization that believes in the promise and potential of children. For more than 75 years in over 50 developing countries, Plan has been breaking the cycle of child poverty. Everything Plan does – from strengthening health care systems to improving the quality of education, to advocating for increased protection and beyond – is built with, and owned by, the community. The result is a development approach designed to improve the lives of the youngest members of the community for the longest period of time. For more information, please visit PlanUSA.org.

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