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‘Some people haven't eaten for three days’

“I have nothing to cook,” says Achai Makwat Dong in South Sudan. She and her children are extremely hungry. In South Sudan, at least 40,000 people are at risk of famine.


‘The situation in South Sudan is dire’

Crop failures due to drought or floods: this means less or no food for millions of South Sudanese. Their situation has been dramatically worsened by the arrival of refugees from Sudan, fleeing the war there. “The situation is very dire,” says Kees-Jan Hooglander, ZOA’s emergency aid coordinator.

Achai (35) is mother of eight children. She lived in Sudan with her family, but the war there forced them to flee back to their native country South Sudan. Her husband is a soldier and unfortunately could not stay with his family.

Achai and her children were dropped off at the border with South Sudan. Then they walked for five days and nights to the town of Aweil. That's where the suffering piled up. Achai was captured by South Sudanese and robbed. Her seven-year-old son was kidnapped.

Cup of tea

Kees-Jan recently visited South Sudan. The stories that refugees told him, are heartbreaking. “Some people don’t eat for three days. They drink a cup of tea in the morning and that’s all for the day.”

Mary Awing Ngong (25) was living in the Sudanese capital Khartoum when the war broke out. The house where she, her husband and their four children lived, was looted. The situation became too dangerous and she and her family fled. Her husband went into hiding. After a car dropped her off at the border, she walked for five days and nights on her way to family in South Sudan.

Now she’s staying in one house with her children, parents and grandfather. Her parents and grandfather are blind and the house is in poor condition. Together with her 11-year-old son, she tries to earn some money by collecting firewood and selling it on the market. That, however, is not easy.

“People are being chased away from water points and from markets because there is already so little,” says Kees-Jan. “A Sudanese woman for example tried to sell a jerrycan of water for 20 cents at the market, but was literally kicked out.”

Kees-Jan is moved by the desperation of all those people who have nothing left. “People begged me,” he says. “'Please give us food so we can possibly survive.'”

Read more about ZOA's work in South Sudan