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Food from the skies in South Sudan


When it's impossible to reach starving people by road, Red Cross takes to the skies.

Saturday April 1, 2017

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A plane drops food packages into areas hit hard by famine. Photo: ICRC
A plane drops food packages into areas hit hard by famine. Photo: ICRC
The only thing we have is wild fruit, and the leaves from the trees. We've been cooking the leaves and eating them.

Air-dropping food is a last-ditch option to help hungry people. It's the only option now available in parts of South Sudan, where conflict has made deliveries by road impossible.

Thousands of people have been forced from their homes and left constantly on the move by the threat of violence. Food has run out; the United Nations has declared famine in several areas across the country.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) now uses airplanes to drop tons of food parcels, while South Sudanese Red Cross teams help distribute food on the ground.  

It's the only option left, says Lang Biliu of South Sudanese Red Cross. "No food in the market. The only food they get is this food which is dropped."  

Every time an airdrop happens, thousands gather. Whole families - from the very young to the very old - have fled their villages, their livestock and their crops, leaving them with nothing.  

Nyayiek is the mother of eight children. Now, she is struggling to feed them.  

"The only thing we have is wild fruit, and the leaves from the trees," she says. "We've been cooking the leaves and eating them."  

Please help with a donation to our East Africa Food Crisis Appeal.

Women carry home food parcels that have been dropped in by planes. Photo: ICRC
Women carry home food parcels that have been dropped in by planes. Photo: ICRC

The ICRC began food drops to Maar in March this year, aiming to reach 20,000 people. But such deliveries are only a short term measure, an attempt to avoid the disaster of famine for perhaps a few months.

It's not only food: seeds and tools are being distributed before the next planting season in the hope that peace will return and people can rebuild.

Red Cross is now looking ahead to the next planting season, in the hope that if peace returns, people can try to rebuild their lives.

But next season is many hungry days and weeks away. While South Sudan's families wait and hope for new crops to grow, they will still be looking to the skies for the food to keep them alive. 

This crisis is too big to ignore. 
Please donate now to help people facing starvation and malnutrition in South Sudan, Somalia and other parts of East Africa.