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Ireland sends €2 million to South Sudan as 4 million people face starvation

A second ceasefire in the country has collapsed and both rebels and government forces are blocking the paths of UN peacekeepers.

A mother holds her malnourished child at a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres earlier this month.
A mother holds her malnourished child at a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres earlier this month.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE IRISH GOVERNMENT yesterday pledged €2 million to support life-saving work in South Sudan where an estimated five million people are in urgent need of assistance.

More than 1.2 million people have fled their homes due to the escalating conflict. Both the government and rebels, who are currently fighting a civil war, have been blocking United Nations peacekeeper patrols.

Despite heavy international pressure, a second ceasefire this month for the world’s youngest nation has crumbled, in a six-month war that has already claimed thousands – possibly tens of thousands – of lives.

Speaking yesterday, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the devastating conflict has left thousands of families “destitute, with hunger and under-nutrition now widespread”.

“The UN has warned that more than a third of South Sudan’s population, or four million people, will be on the brink of starvation by the end of 2014 if urgent action is not taken,” he said.

Widespread killing of civilians and gross human rights violations are reported. Given the seriousness of the crisis and the urgent needs of innocent civilians, Ireland will provide a further €1.36 million to our NGO partners in South Sudan to provide healthcare and protection to vulnerable women and children.

The funding will go towards emergency response work, health care and aid for those who have fled to Uganda.

Source: AP/Press Association Images

It comes at a time when the country is dealing with a serious outbreak of Cholera. More than 315 cases have been recorded since the outbreak was officially delcared on 15 May.

In other locations across the country, there have been suspected cases that are awaiting confirmation.

Commenting on the crisis, Brian P Moller of Médecins Sans Frontier, which has been providing assistance, said:

Following five months of intense conflict, dire conditions in many camps for displaced people, and a worsening rainy season, we are concerned about the impact of the disease. Yet cholera can be simply and effectively treated if caught early enough.

“MSF’s priority is to ensure a quick and efficient response to contain the outbreak as much as possible, working on both the treatment of patients and the prevention of the disease,” he said.

The organisation has begun setting up a site for a treatment centre and has vaccinated around 17,000 people since April – particularly in the camps where people displaced by the conflict are living.

- With additional reporting from AFP.

Read: After 5 months and thousands of deaths, ceasefire begins in South Sudan>

Opinion: After a day submerged in a river, the family escaped the men who wanted them dead>

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