South Sudan War Causes Surge in Child Malnutrition, MSF Says

Persistent fighting in South Sudan is causing cases of child malnutrition to “skyrocket” as violence disrupts the planting, harvesting and distribution of food, Medecins Sans Frontieres said.

About 13,270 children under five years of age have been put on emergency-feeding programs so far this year in Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states, compared with 18,125 in all of 2013, MSF said today in an e-mailed statement.

“We are now witnessing the shocking, cumulative consequences of one million people being displaced from their homes,” Raphael Gorgeu, MSF head of mission in South Sudan, said in the statement. “Some people have been living in the bush for six months, drinking dirty swamp water and eating roots to survive.”

Fighting erupted in South Sudan in mid-December between factions loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar. Thousands of people have died in the violence, according to the United Nations.

The rebels said today that their positions in Rubkona and Guit counties in Unity state were attacked by government forces, violating agreements made to cease hostilities. Army spokesman Philip Aguer didn’t answer a call seeking comment.

MSF urged South Sudan’s warring parties to ensure the safe passage of humanitarian assistance to those in need. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in April warned that as many as a million people in the world’s newest nation faced famine unless there was immediate action.

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