Mary’s Meals launches emergency air deliveries to conflict-hit South Sudan
Scottish child hunger charity Mary’s Meals has initiated emergency air deliveries of food to war-torn South Sudan, to ensure it can keep its promise to the 16,000 children currently relying on the charity’s school feeding programme there.
Owing to ongoing conflict in the country, a major bridge – crucial for the delivery of Mary’s Meals’ food to schools in the Lakes state – has been destroyed. The bridge is not expected to be rebuilt in the near future and all other roads in are also blocked or impassable.
Faced with the prospect of suspending its programme, which provides hungry and impoverished children with a nutritious daily meal at school, Mary’s Meals has taken the difficult decision to transport food by air from the capital Juba until the roads re-open.
Amid extreme violence and food insecurity, the provision of Mary’s Meals is playing a vital role in keeping 33 schools in and around the town of Rumbek open and giving children there some sense of stability. The cost of delivering food by air is far higher than transporting by road, but will allow the children enrolled in the Mary’s Meals programme to eat their promised meal each day and continue with their studies.
“So soon after sharing news of the worsening food crisis in Malawi – and seeing the heartening response to that message from our supporters – the last thing we want to be doing is drawing attention to yet more sorrow; but the brutal war raging in South Sudan has left the lives of many children in chaos, and is stealing the hopes and dreams of an entire generation,” said Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, Mary’s Meals’ founder and chief executive.
“The cost of transporting food by air is significantly higher and it was a difficult choice to make, but we have made a promise to South Sudan’s children and we are determined to keep it. No matter how challenging, we will ensure we continue to meet the needs of those 16,153 children who depend on receiving a daily meal in school.”
One in every three schools across South Sudan has been destroyed, occupied or closed because of the war. Conflict and violence have caused widespread displacement and more than 2.6 million people (almost a quarter of the population) have been forced to leave their homes.
South Sudan, the world’s newest country, now has the highest proportion of children out of school in any conflict zone in the world, including the Middle East. The rising costs of goods in South Sudan is exacerbating food insecurity, with the most recent available information suggesting that up to 4.8 million people are going hungry.
To find out more about Mary’s Meals or to donate, visit www.marysmeals.org.ukTags: charity, children, education, Mary's Meals, school, South Sudan