UNICEF UK Ambassador Ewan McGregor Speaks Out On Growing Crisis

Children in South Sudan are facing a triple emergency of epic proportions, as the country marks three years of independence – warns UNICEF UK.  

Tens of thousands could die in famine, hundreds are contracting cholera in a growing epidemic, and hundreds of thousands are facing extreme violence. 

Parts of South Sudan could slip into famine as early as next month.
South Sudan declared independence on July 9 2011, after two civil wars with the Government of Sudan, spanning a total of nearly forty years.  

“In July 2011 babies were born into incredible hope in South Sudan, as the country declared independence and was celebrated as the world’s newest nation,” says UNICEF UK Ambassador Ewan McGregor, who is speaking out about the severity of the crisis. 

“Now, three years on, the outlook for these same children has taken a dramatic and desperate turn.”  

“Famine is looming.  Children are already dying every day of hunger and of diseases like cholera.”

Over half a million children have fled their homes since fighting began. 250,000 children under the age of five are at risk of severe malnutrition. Cholera is spreading – with hundreds of cases in Juba, and other areas across the country, and dozens of deaths.

“This is a terrible warning for the world,” continues UNICEF UK Ambassador Ewan McGregor.  

“We need to sit up and take action now to stop the suffering, before the scenes of horror increase.”

The humanitarian situation in some areas of the country is particularly dire.  

The number of people who have fled to Bentiu Protection of Civilians Site in Unity State has gone up by more than five times in less than three months.  

Up to three children under the age of five are dying at the camp every day - with heavy rains exacerbating unsanitary conditions, a lack of clean water and sanitation, acute overcrowding, and children arriving already desperately malnourished and ill.

UNICEF is leading the emergency response on the ground in South Sudan to save children’s lives.   However, they need nearly £89 million to meet the needs of children in South Sudan – and currently only have a third of that figure. 

“UNICEF is doing everything they can to provide life-saving food for severely malnourished children – as well as vital clean drinking water and vaccinations,” explains Ewan McGregor.  

“However, they just don’t have enough money to reach every child.” 

“Too many children in South Sudan have empty stomachs and increasingly empty futures.” 

“We need to help those children now, before it is simply too late.”

Please text FOOD to 70030 to give £5 to help provide life-saving food to feed a child for a week. Or visit www.unicef.org.uk/southsudanappeal


Notes to editors

Interviews are available in London and South Sudan.

UNICEF UK’s Catherine Cottrell has just returned from South Sudan, where she witnessed the growing crisis at first hand.  UNICEF’s Ettie Higgins is available in South Sudan and can give the latest on the increasingly desperate situation in the country.

For further information please contact:   

Rose Foley, UNICEF UK: 020 7375 6077, 07584 228 343, rosef@unicef.org.uk  

Claire Blackburn, UNICEF UK: 020 7375 6261, 07838 555 618 claireb@unicef.org.uk 


UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation for children, working in over 190 countries to help every child realise their full potential. We work with partners to transform the lives of children everywhere. UNICEF provides health care, water, nutrition, education and protection for children. The most vulnerable and disadvantaged children are our priority. As champion of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we work to protect and promote the rights of every child. UNICEF UK raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work and advocates for lasting change for children everywhere. We are a UK registered charity, supported entirely by voluntary donations. We do not receive any money from the UN. For more information, please visit www.unicef.org.uk