More than one month since famine was declared in parts of South Sudan, UNICEF, together with the World Food Programme and other partners, has delivered life-saving assistance to 145,000 thousand people, including 33,000 children under the age of five.
According to UNICEF, thirteen mobile emergency teams, known as the Integrated Rapid Response Mechanism (IRRM), have been deployed to areas of Unity State where more than 100,000 people are living in two famine-affected counties.
“With more than a quarter of a million children estimated to be severely malnourished in South Sudan, the scale of this crisis requires us to respond as quickly and as robustly as possible if we are to prevent children from dying,” said Jeremy Hopkins, acting UNICEF Representative in South Sudan. “Through these missions, we are able to provide critical assistance to large numbers of children who we would not otherwise be able to reach.”
Through the rapid response missions UNICEF teams have screened more than 5,700 children under 5 years of age for malnutrition; vaccinated more than 25,000 children against polio and measles; provided 11,500 households with access to safe water, and a further 15,800 with hygiene supplies. More than 40 separated or unaccompanied children have also been registered so as to begin the family reunification process.
With nearly 1.9 million people – half of them children – having been displaced by violence in South Sudan to often inaccessible areas, UNICEF and WFP designed the Integrated Rapid Response Mechanism in early 2014 to bring urgent assistance by air and river to desperate families. Since then, rapid response teams have provided aid to more than one million people.
These missions go deep into South Sudan, another reminder of the need for full, unimpeded and safe access for all humanitarian workers in the country.