After years of battling drought and civil and tribal wars, the Sudan, the largest country on the African continent, is experiencing looming famine.
An entire population is teetering on the verge of severe starvation, and the children are the ones who are mostly affected: Little ones with eyes that are sunken in, reed thin legs barely able to support them, exposed ribs, distended bellies, skin barely clinging to their bones, gazes that are lifeless – 46 percent of children in Sudan are just biding their time, waiting to die.
The number of people in southern Sudan, in particular, who are in dire need of food assistance has more than quadrupled from 1 million in 2009 to 4.3 million this year, according to the U.N. Thus far, charitable organizations have fed an estimated 80,000 people, but experts are theorizing that the worst is yet to come because the harvest is not expected until fall, and that is dependent on whether the rains come at all. Even if the rains do come, though, there are no seeds for the people to plant and grow their food.
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Humanitarian efforts by such groups as Save the Children and Medair have actually searched for the hungriest children in communities throughout the devastated land and placed them in therapeutic-feeding programs, where diets with primarily fortified peanut butter were given to them to bring them back from the brink.
“We are only just entering the start of the hunger gap, so we would expect nutrition levels to worsen in the coming months,” said Kate Foster, Director of Program Development for Save the Children in Southern Sudan (SCiSS).