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Concern Worldwide makes urgent appeal for staff as 'imminent' famine threatens South Sudan

Refugees at Yida refugee camp in South Sudan’s Unity State queue for hours for food and soap. Camps could be overwhelmed if the conflict and food crisis worsen. Photo: Hannah McNeish/IRIN.Concern Worldwide, Ireland’s largest international humanitarian organisation, has put out an urgent appeal for experienced specialists to help in its response to the rapidly deteriorating food situation in South Sudan.

Back in early December, the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) warned that the country faced a potential food crisis this year. Less than two weeks later, several conflict broke out along ethnic lines in the newly independent country between rival groups than in the ruling party. Largely as a result, the situation has deteriorated to the point that FEWS NET, the UN and many others are warning of famine that may be imminent.

The civil war meant that farmers could not plant earlier this year and now they face severe food shortages, say Concern. Food prices are soaring making it impossible for people to meet their daily needs. It is now estimated that 3.8 million people are in need of assistance.

“It is a measure of the seriousness of the very real and imminent threat of famine in the world’s newest country that we are putting out this call for staff,” said Concern’s Regional Director for South Sudan, Carol Morgan. “These are paid positions and will assist us in our existing humanitarian response in the country, which we are already scaling up significantly.”

In 2011, the humanitarian network ALNAP published a major report , which analysed lessons learnt from droughts, many of which could have been applied in this case. One of the major recommendations was timely and appropriate intervention. Concern has been responding to this crisis since January. The international response has been more mixed. A major UN appeal was launched in May but is currently only 45.5% funded even though conditions have subsequently worsened.

The conflict was predicted and its origins take further back, not least to South Sudan's formal independence in July 2011. The Obama administration has been criticised for not doing enough to prevent the conflict from happening in the first place, in particular for leaving the position of envoy to South Sudan vacant for much of 2013. US President Barack Obama has just concluded a highly significant and successful summit with Africa leaders this week. However, his Africa legacy could be judged by how events unfold in South Sudan.

Concern is looking for experienced Camp Managers, Logistics Coordinators, Nurses (with Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition experience), Nutritionists, Water Sanitation and Hygiene Advisors and Engineers.

Concern is appealing for experienced specialists with at least three years relevant international experience in their specialist area and at least one year’s experience in an emergency context. All applicants must be able to work in a high pressure environment within a large multicultural team. For more information on the roles visit http://www.concern.net/jobs.

Media contact: Karen Power: 01 417 7789 or email karen.power at concern.net

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