Some 50,000 children in South Sudan could die this year and thousands of rape survivors could go without psychosocial support, a senior United Nations humanitarian official today said, as aid agencies appealed for $1 billion they need to continue their work.
"Now that the rains have set in, conditions in South Sudan are deteriorating by the day: people are literally living in mud," said Toby Lanzer, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan.
He noted that cholera has broken out, malaria is rampant and many children are malnourished: "Millions of people need emergency healthcare, food, clean water, proper sanitation and shelter to make it through the year."
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today released a $1.8 billion plan to assist 3.8 million people hit by hunger, violence and disease by the end of the year. Some $740 million of this 2014 South Sudan Crisis Response Plan has already been mobilized.
"This leaves a gap of just over $1 billion - or only $1.50 per day for each person to be assisted," according to OCHA.
The three main goals, Mr. Lanzer said, are to "save lives, prevent a famine, and avert the loss of a generation of children and young people to this conflict".
"Aid organizations have reached 1.9 million people so far. With sufficient resources, we will be able to do much more," he underscored.
Political infighting between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar turned into a full-fledged conflict that has uprooted around 1.5 million people and placed more than seven million at risk of hunger and disease, according to UN figures.
Top UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and OCHA chief Valerie Amos, have repeatedly called for the fighting to end so that people can return homes and resume their lives.
In today's statement, relief organizations welcomed the recommitment by parties to the conflict to the peace process, but said "the damage has already been done".
"Even if the cessation of hostilities holds - and I sincerely hope it will - fighting and displacement has already shattered the lives of millions of people" stressed Mr. Lanzer.
He underscored that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies need two things to do their work: the high-level commitment of to allow aid workers access, and funding.
"With those things in place, we will deliver," Mr. Lanzer said.