Juba 55

Juba 55

This girl is one of the lucky ones. She will probably not die from malnutrition. I know the picture is devastating, but you might as well get used to it. The present situation in South Sudan is not at all as bad as it will be in a month or two. Remember the pictures that made Bob Geldof react back in the 80’s? The expected famine in South Sudan will probably be the worst one in Africa since the days of Live Aid. This girl is living in a camp for IDP’s (internally displaced persons – or refugees within their own country, if you like) in Juba, the capital of the youngest country in the world. Fortunately her mother took her to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in time. Her skin is healing slowly but surely and she responds well to the drugs she is given, and the nutritious milk she is fed.

The UN’s humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer is estimating that some seven million people will be affected by the famine, unless the UN finds 230 million dollars to start distributing food ASAP. According to Lanzer the world has less than two months to act, to avoid the disaster. The rainy season will soon make it impossible to reach the remote areas of the country by car. The UN has got the trucks, the fuel, the drivers and the knowledge to start their convoys of humanitarian aid tomorrow, but no money means no aid. By the time people start dying and the papers start printing pictures of skinny kids with big bellies it will be too late. Then airdrops of food and medicine are the only option, and that is far, far more expensive than $ 230 million.

So, now you understand why the poor kid in the picture is far better off than hundreds of thousands of kids will be in the near future. Why is this post called Juba 55, you might ask. I was sitting in my hotel room editing the pictures of today’s photographic catch and naming the pictures Juba 1, 2, 3 etc (an exercise I have to do myself, now that I’m travelling without my good friend and colleague, Otto). There are a lot of strong impressions after a day of photographing in an IDP camp. When I named this picture Juba 55 it struck me that I don’t know enough about this girl. I don’t even know her name. However, one thing I know for sure: She is lucky to be living in a camp where they have what it takes to heal her.


8 Responses to “Juba 55”

  1. […] As you may know my friend and colleague Øystein Mikalsen share a blog called Untold Stories which tells reports from our travels to troubled countries (mostly). This time Øystein is travelling on his own to South Sudan to report about the devastating catastrophe about to hit the country. Famine is again striking in an African country, and the expected famine in South Sudan will probably be the worst one in Africa since the days of Live Aid. Read more about in Øystein’s post. […]

  2. thank you for the wake-up call. you have been there, you have witnessed, and you’re shouting the alarm. i hope that many truly hear, and don’t just say, ‘that’s tragic,’ and stop there.

    to be the evolved species, we certainly are in denial about so many things. how can we go on shopping sprees and not remember those who are hungry?

    hopefully we will all share this message and raise the awareness, but awareness is not enough – apathy is a gentle way of not caring enough. thank you for caring and for acting.

    may many follow your lead.


  3. thank you for giving the voiceless a voice. it is powerful and essential work.

  4. Thanks for this post. But can you please share your “call to action” advice? What exact thing is it you would advise your readers to do to help? Should we donate to a fund? Should we contact the UN and appeal to them to act now?

  5. our world is mad and the innocent fall in the fray.. yes what marymcavoy , how can those of us globally truly make an impact

  6. I was wondering the same thing, is there a best fund to contribute to, Doctors without Borders would be one but any others?

  7. My gosh, Otto. You’ve touched my heart and the tears that come are proof. I haven’t one word that I can add. I’m just speechless.

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