International funding needed to save the lives of tens of thousands of children in South Sudan has “collapsed,” a Unicef official has said.
The UN children's agency reports it has received only 18 per cent of the donations needed this year for its nutrition and vaccination programmes in South Sudan.
“For the first time since the start of the crisis, which is now in its third year, children are being threatened not only by a lack of access or capacity, but by a lack of funds,” said Unicef spokesman Christophe Boulierac.
Overall, less than eight percent of a $1.3 billion UN appeal for humanitarian aid has so far been provided this year for South Sudan.
“The reality is that without adequate support we will simply not be able to provide the services that are needed to prevent children dying from malnutrition, diarrhoea, malaria and vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Jonathan Veitch, Unicef's South Sudan representative.
However, UN officials briefing reporters did not suggest reasons for the shortfall in donations.
But some aid-giving countries have previously expressed frustration over failures to stem corruption that permeates South Sudan's government.
Substantial supplies of food and medical aid have been stolen during the two-and-a-half years of fighting that has internally displaced 1.7 million South Sudanese and driven another 650,000 out of the country.
“The country’s elites have built a kleptocratic regime that controls all sectors of the economy, and have squandered a historic chance for the development of a functional state,” the Enough Project, a Washington-based think-tank, declared in a recent report.
The United States, which ranks as South Sudan's largest donor, has criticised the government's budget priorities and the repeated breakdown of efforts to bring peace and stability to the country.
State military spending has nearly doubled since the start of the civil war while resources for education, health care and other development initiatives have stagnated.