Nyajime Guet, 4, has survived the odds as South Sudan's humanitarian crisis unfolds stuff nation

Nyajime Guet, 4, sits with her father Michael as they wait for a check-up.
SEBASTIAN RICH/UNICEF

Nyajime Guet, 4, sits with her father Michael as they wait for a check-up.

WARNING: SOME IMAGES MAY BE DISTRESSING

Four-year-old Nyajime Guet was suffering from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications when she was admitted to a UNICEF-supported clinic in Juba, South Sudan, in October 2015.

She weighed just nine kilograms, rather than the 19.5 kilograms a healthy girl of her age and height should weigh. Nyajime was emaciated and near death.

Nyajime Guet, 4, is held by her father Michael as he sits on a bed at a UNICEF-supported clinic.
SEBASTIAN RICH/UNICEF

Nyajime Guet, 4, is held by her father Michael as he sits on a bed at a UNICEF-supported clinic.

Nyajime's family, her parents and two siblings, arrived to be with her in November 2014.

Her father, Michael View, studies social science at Upper Nile University in Juba. When fighting broke out, the university offered support to move Michael and his family to the clinic, so that he could continue his studies and keep his wife and children safe. With no income, the family was forced to rely on food and services provided by the UN.

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Nyajime Guet, 4, who is suffering from severe acute malnutrition and tuberculosis, lies on a bed at a UNICEF-supported ...
SEBASTIAN RICH/UNICEF

Nyajime Guet, 4, who is suffering from severe acute malnutrition and tuberculosis, lies on a bed at a UNICEF-supported clinic where she is being treated.

 

"There was no food at home and we couldn't feed her well," says Michael about Nyajime, "she was getting more and more sick every day. The day when I brought her to the clinic she wasn't moving, she couldn't walk or sit."

With the intervention of closely monitored feeding of UNICEF provided milk-based fortified food, along with drugs to combat her tuberculosis, Nyajime improved steadily.

Nyajime Guet, 4, second from right, sits with her mother and father Michael, and siblings in their shelter at the ...
SEBASTIAN RICH/UNICEF

Nyajime Guet, 4, second from right, sits with her mother and father Michael, and siblings in their shelter at the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Juba, South Sudan

Within two weeks, she was on the path to a full-recovery. Ten-months on, she is nothing like the emaciated little girl who was first admitted. Nyajime still attends regular check-ups with medical staff to monitor her weight and to treat her tuberculosis, but she is progressing well and healthy enough to attend school.

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BACKGROUND:

Renewed conflict since July 2016 has deepened the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, with women and children facing immediate risks of violence, displacement, hunger and life-threatening diseases. Children are among the most vulnerable as the country faces a critical food security crisis. It is estimated almost a third of the population is experiencing severe food insecurity, and one in three children under five are estimated to be acutely malnourished.

Nyajime Guet, 4, plays with pencils and paper given to her at the Mercy Corps hospital.
SEBASTIAN RICH/UNICEF

Nyajime Guet, 4, plays with pencils and paper given to her at the Mercy Corps hospital.

There has been a 350 per cent increase in acute malnutrition cases since 2013. Between UNICEF and its partners, more than 200,000 children with severe acute malnutrition were admitted into therapeutic feeding programmes in 2016. It is the highest number of admissions ever recorded, and a 50 per cent increase compared to 2015.

Nearly 1.7 million South Sudanese people had been displaced since conflict erupted in December 2013, and more than 930,000 people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

As a result of the fighting, food security has deteriorated, and access to water and sanitation is very low. Just 41 per cent of the population has access to safe water and only 18 per cent, has access to sanitation, leaving hundreds of thousands of people vulnerable to disease. UNICEF is appealing for donations to help provide urgent access to nutrition; health; water, sanitation and hygiene; protection; and education.

Nyajime Guet, 4, in red at centre, stands for a photograph with her father Michael, and the rest of the family outside ...
SEBASTIAN RICH/UNICEF

Nyajime Guet, 4, in red at centre, stands for a photograph with her father Michael, and the rest of the family outside their shelter.

The worsening security situation, continued decline in the economy, reduced harvest and a cholera outbreak have contributed to a critical nutritional situation for children, especially in areas facing renewed fighting and displacement.

This article was supplied as part of Stuff's partnership with Unicef NZ. UNICEF stands up for every child so they can have a childhood. Find out more at unicef.org.nz

UNICEF is assisting children and families affected by the conflict across South Sudan by providing food, shelter, medical assistance and education. To donate, and help children just like Nyajime, visit: https://www.unicef.org.nz/malnutrition.

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