Millions of people in South Sudan are on the brink of famine

Second from left, Major Kevin Williams is in South Sudan working with the United Nations.
SUPPLIED

Second from left, Major Kevin Williams is in South Sudan working with the United Nations.

Near the epicentre of famine in war-torn South Sudan is a Linton military man trying to make a difference to people's lives. Kirsty Lawrence caught up with Major Kevin Williams to talk about his work. 

After spending five months in South Sudan, Major Kevin Williams has endured all weather conditions. 

It was 40-degree heat when he arrived – singlet-wearing weather. 

A market stall in Malakal in South Sudan's Upper Nile state.
SUPPLIED

A market stall in Malakal in South Sudan's Upper Nile state.

Currently, he encounters torrential rain. A pair of gumboots are handy by his door, just in case he needs to head out in a hurry and discovers water pooling. 

The weather is difficult to manage for someone who is prepared, let alone those fleeing from their villages with nothing. 

READ MORE:
Fifteen children die in botched vaccine campaign in South Sudan
Unicef: Life in South Sudan just got tougher 
War forces two million South Sudanese children to flee homes

On a river patrol to Kodok town in South Sudan's Upper Nile state.
SUPPLIED

On a river patrol to Kodok town in South Sudan's Upper Nile state.

Williams is a long way from Linton Military Camp, near Palmerston North.

Based in South Sudan, he is working as a military liaison officer for the United Nations mission, helping deliver life-saving aid to areas in need.

This mission has become even more difficult by continued fighting and the rainy season, which will last until November.

"Famine had been declared in parts of South Sudan and this could spread across the country unless food and other vital supplies reach those in need," he says.

Ad Feedback

For his family in New Zealand, winter deployments are easier to manage, so when the opportunity to go to South Sudan arose he put his hand up. 

South Sudan is the world's youngest nation, and three years of civil war, compounded by drought, has taken a toll. 

The UN estimates about 100,000 people are starving in the famine's epicentre in Unity state in the northern-central part of South Sudan, with another 5.5 million in other areas on the brink of famine, and more than 1 million children are acutely malnourished.

They appealed for urgent humanitarian assistance to stem the "escalating catastrophe". 

Williams forms part of a UN liaison team of 29 officers from 20 countries based in Malakal, in Upper Nile state, in the north-eastern part of South Sudan.

Malakal is the scene of some of the fiercest fighting since South Sudan plunged into civil war in December 2013 and is one of the regions hit by critical food shortages.

During a recent visit to Tonga, a town in the northern Upper Nile state,  Williams saw people surviving on fish and whatever wild herbs and leaves they could find. 

"People's livelihoods have been destroyed.

"They've got no money and have barely enough to eat."

This issue is heightened by people being on the move. 

"If they aren't in their own villages, they find it hard to have the tools for farming.

"But also, they find it hard finding the land where they can plant crops and know it's going to be there the next day." 

This means the need for aid is growing, but Williams says it can be difficult for them to get into these areas to deliver it. 

He says that when they got into Tonga, it was the first time UN representatives had made it into the village after clashes broke out over more than six months ago.

"Hopefully, humanitarian workers will be able to resume delivering aid now that we have shown that the area is safe to visit."

More than 2 million South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries since the civil war erupted, while more than 200,000 internally displaced people have sought refuge in the UN's six sites for protection of civilians across the country.

Williams recently escorted UN staff on an investigation outside the civilian site on the outskirts of Malakal, which is home to more than 30,000 people.

"The sites are crowded and sanitation conditions are poor. But they provide shelter and protection to thousands of [people] who may otherwise be caught in the crossfire or suffer from famine."

Williams has a month left of his six-month deployment.

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Forced to share a home

A family of four ended up sharing bills with strangers at this Browns Bay property.

Family of four found themselves splitting bills with strangers when their landlord rented part of their house to other tenants.

Owens refs under-15 match video

Players from both sides were thrilled to have the popular Welshman officiating their match.

Refereeing legend Nigel Owens warmed up for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test by officiating a school game in Auckland.

Woman and son missing

Tina Whaitiri is 45 and was last seen wearing black pants and a black long-sleeved top.

Police have "serious concerns" for welfare of a West Auckland woman and her young son.

DHBs budget blowout

Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman insists there will be no service cuts to DHBs around the country despite forecast ...

Several district health boards around the country are under pressure to reduce budget blowouts.

Wellington

Disability support a 'black hole'

Nicola Parsons waited a year to get early intervention services for Sam. The Ministry of Education's target is to have ...

Preschoolers and their families waiting months for first appointment with early intervention services.

Ohariu deal canned video

Green Party candidate Tane Woodley has been revealed as the shock last-minute contender for the Ohariu seat.

Greens pull out of their only electorate deal, standing an 11th-hour candidate.

Woman's fight for $50K ring

The woman was unsuccessful in a bid to have her $50,000 engagement ring returned from her former partner.

A Hawke's Bay woman has lost her bid to keep her $50,000 engagement ring after the relationship ended.

New notch in town belt

A map of the land acquired by the Wellington City Council to become part of the town belt.

Wellington City Council has bought 4220sqm of Aro Valley land to add to town belt.

Canterbury

Blacking out and 'stuck' video

Danny Watson says he often has to give several days notice when ordering a taxi, despite companies being required to ...

Danny Watson was blacking out. Paramedics needed to get him to hospital but taking an ambulance would put his life at risk.

Builder lived high life

Former Queenstown builder Jaden Melgren on a duckshooting trip.

Jaden Melgren, who owes at least $670,000, enjoyed a flamboyant life as his business slowly collapsed.

Public barred from park debate

Residents were blocked on Tuesday from talking about a proposal to build a $35.7 million pool, library and service ...

Ratepayers barred from talking about $35.7m facility for Hornby's Denton Park, instead only able to speak about consulation process.

Gangster jailed for a decade

Enoka, the former president of the Christchurch chapter of the Rebels gang, has been jailed for 10 years for his offending.

A former Rebels gang president was "paranoid and certainly irrational" when he broke into a home while armed and high on meth.

Waikato

Mother warns of stranger danger

Blake Crossan, 10 was selling raffle tickets at the Hillcrest shops on Sunday when a taxi driver approached him and told ...

Mother warns parents after taxi driver's reportedly odd behaviour.

Fatal crash near Waihi

Athenree Gorge runs between Waihi Beach and Waihi township, north of Tauranga.

One dead and State Highway 2 closed after collision between car and petrol tanker in Bay of Plenty.

Highway man link to fatal fire

The scene of the fatal house fire.

Man seen standing on the side of the highway near scene sparks police appeal.

Holiday death shocks family

Michelle Robertson, left, photographed with her siblings Shannon, Paul and Kerryn at Paul's wedding.

Waikato's Michelle Robertson died of kidney failure while on a holiday in Rarotonga.

Taranaki

Not looking too far forward for Taranaki No 8

19082017 News Photo ANDY JACKSON/STUFF.  Mitre 10 cup rugby, Taranaki V Waikato at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.  Toa ...

"My actions need to speak for themselves."

The next generation

22082017 News GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Taranaki rugby training. Logan Crowley

Young halfback the next of the Crowley generation to play rugby for Taranaki.

A gender diversity rainbow

Rainbow Youth representative Morgan Butler says there is no right or wrong time to 'come out'.

What do you do if you don't think you're a he or a she?

Sports medals found in raids

Detective Constable Tony Temple with medals recovered in a raid at a Waitara home.

Person found with the medals wasn't old enough to be a veteran runner and "didn't look like an athlete", police say.

Manawatu

Block to road upgrade cleared

22082017 Photo: MURRAY WILSON/STUFF	
James Line, Kelvin Grove, Palmerston North

Palmerston North's James Line has been cleared for an urban makeover.

More homes for city

Jacinda Ardern announces more state houses for Palmerston North if her party gets into Government. On her right is ...

Political parties go into battle over housing in Palmerston North.

Recap: Labour on tax

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and deputy leader Grant Robertson talk about their tax plan.

Labour says now is not the time for tax cuts, but rules out an income tax or GST hike.

Pond house problems

Jillian Sinclair is struggling to find a house suitable for her special needs children, and fears she'll have to leave ...

She won a Tenancy Tribunal case against property manager, but still lives there.

Nelson

Takahe reintroduction on hold

Wild takahe will be released in the Gouland Downs next year.

Bad weather and early breeeding have delayed the release of takahe to the Kahurangi.

Rough sleeping banned

People like Peter Wilkie, left,  will no longer be able to sleep rough overnight in the Nelson CBD.

Nelson City Council bylaw puts in place ban on rough sleeping in city centre.

Holding pattern for poison drop

A drop of brodifacoum-laced poison bait in the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary is designed to wipe out predators before native ...

Preparations for the poison drop in the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary are in a holding pattern as a last-ditch court challenge is heard.

Salisbury School gets extension

Education Minister Nikki Kaye has given Salisbury School more breathing room.

Richmond school heartened by new talks with Ministry of Education about its future.

Marlborough

Cone and the Marlburian video

Mr Whippy franchise owner Len Shaw has sold a lot of ice cream in Marlborough.

Marlborough's Mr Whippy creams the competition, scoops national award.

Crash on SH6

Accident on SH6 near Rai Valley

A woman in her 20s has been hurt in a serious crash in Marlborough

Sawmill fire could have spread

The Kaikoura Volunteer Fire Brigade put out a sawmill fire on Wednesday.

Sparks from a welding winch have set fire to sawdust at a Kaikoura sawmill.

Duck hunter's maimai meltdown

Hunters use maimais during duck shooting season. (File photo)

Enraged man caught illegally hunting tells female ranger she should be at home looking after the children.

South Canterbury

Evans St traffic monitoring video

23082017  News JOHN BISSET/STUFF.    Timaru Engravers and Giftware owner Ewen Lawson is sick and tired of heavy trucks ...

A mobile camera unit on Timaru's busy main road road would record the number of speeding cars.

$1.5m roading fix

South Canterbury Councils are looking to foot an estimated $1.5 million bill to fix roading damage due to July's deluge, ...

South Canterbury's councils face a $1.5 million clean-up bill for July's floods.

Truck rolls on Evans St

A police spokewoman said it was understood the driver of this truck swerved to avoid another motorist before rolling on ...

SH1 is closed after a truck rolled as it swerved to avoid a aother vehicle in Timaru.

Disease at third farm

Cows on an a farm near Oamaru look likely to have been infected with the Mycoplasma bovis disease from a Van Leeuwen ...

Cow disease Mycoplasma bovis spreads to a third farm, this one in Oamaru.

Otago

No pool for school

Wakatipu High School principal Steve Hall says students will have to use the Queenstown Event Centre for swimming ...

Wakatipu High School principal is disappointed the new premises won't have a swimming pool.

Airport has record profit

Passenger growth and night flights behind record profit for Queenstown Airport.

Passenger growth and night flights behind record profit for Queenstown Airport.

Builder lived high life, then fled

Former Queenstown builder Jaden Melgren on a duckshooting trip.

Jaden Melgren, who owes at least $670,000, enjoyed a flamboyant Queenstown life as his business slowly collapsed.

DHBs budget blowout

Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman insists there will be no service cuts to DHBs around the country despite forecast ...

Several district health boards around the country are under pressure to reduce budget blowouts.

Southland

Polyfest hits new heights video

Members of the Otatara Kindy on stage at Polyfest 2017

''They like the sense of whanau, they feel like they are a part of something."

Hospitality at the heart of the south

Ronald McDonald Family Room supervisor Helen Walker and volunteer Susan Stenton at the Ronald McDonald House ...

Southland's inaugural Purple Work Shirt Day is raising funds for Ronald McDonald House.

'Stubbornness' gets Grieve home

Dwight Grieve from Fiordland leads Jack McNaughton and Buddy Small in the early stages of the Southland championships in ...

Stubbornness and a want to succeed have helped Dwight Grieve claim the Southland Road Championship title in Te Anau on Saturday.

Quick thinking prevents injury

Fire crews attend a house fire on Dipton street, Invercargill, on Sunday afternoon.

An Invercargill family had a close shave following a house fire in Kingswell.

Ad Feedback