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Millions of children facing starvation in east Africa

Food crisis reaches tipping point

TORONTO, February 24, 2017– Millions of children are facing starvation across East Africa as the food crisis reaches a tipping point, warns child rights and humanitarian organization Plan International.

The crisis gained worldwide attention this past week when South Sudan declared famine in Unity state. It is the first time in six years that a famine has been declared in any part of the world.

Over 20 million people, including millions of children across South Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are in urgent need of food. In South Sudan alone, 4.9 million people - more than 40 percent of country’s population - urgently need food, agriculture and nutrition assistance.

Plan International is extremely concerned about the plight of children caught up in the crisis. “This is one of the biggest humanitarian disasters unfolding before our eyes in current times. Millions of children are facing starvation with many at risk of death. We must act now to save lives,” said Roland Angerer, Plan International’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.

Plan International has been working in South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia, providing urgent food supplies and lifesaving humanitarian support to children and families.

The organization is particularly concerned about the impact of the emergency on girls, who are especially vulnerable during emergencies and often suffer the worst consequences during disaster situations.

“Boys and girls constitute the majority of displaced populations. We know from experience that girls are the ones who suffer most in these situations: in addition to the lack of food and water, the levels of child trafficking, sexual violence and early marriages tend to rise significantly during times of distress. In previous situations of drought when families struggled to survive, many underage girls were sold into child marriage in exchange for livestock – there is no doubt this will happen again,” said Mr. Angerer.

Daniel Muchena, Plan International’s Country Director in South Sudan said: “There are hundreds of thousands of people who have either crossed the border into neighbouring countries or have been internally displaced due to violence. Prevailing food insecurity is making the situation worse for children. With little to eat, and their bodies less able to withstand disease, children are at risk of death from malnutrition and diseases.”

Plan International experts are available for media interviews:

In South Sudan:

  • Daniel Muchena, Country Director, Plan International South Sudan

In Canada:

  • Nadine Grant, Vice President, International Programs and Business Development

For Canadians wishing to be a part of Plan International’s response to the food crisis in East Africa, visit

Media contacts

Irene Whittaker-Cumming
Senior Manager, Communications, Plan International Canada
T: 416-920-1654 ext. 549 | C: 647-284-9575 |

About Plan International Canada and the Because I am a Girl initiative

Founded in 1937, Plan International is one of the world’s oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan International strives for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Because I am a Girl is Plan International’s global movement to transform power relations so that girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive.

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