New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof travelled to South Sudan in summer, where a famine brought on by drought and civil war threatens millions of people.
Watch the video and answer the questions below. The activity is suitable for Advanced students.
1 What does '5 million people' refer to?
2 Where's Nyanjok's husband?
3 What's the price of staple food?
4 What does Dr Dut give some of his patients when they are released?
5 How many people are displaced in South Sudan?
6 Why do displaced people settle in swamp land?
7 What's the main problem South Sudanese people are facing these days?
This is Nicholas Kristof in south Sudan. Nyanjok Garang is (1) one of nearly five million people who cannot feed themselves here. We helped her into a government vehicle. She hadn’t eaten in three days, so she walked dozens of miles from her village to the nearest city, Aweil, hoping to find food or work, but she didn’t make it.
I felt dizzy and nauseous. Then everything went black.
She’s never been hungry before, she says, but with (2) her husband off at war and a drought that stunted her harvest, she was so desperate that she fled, leaving her two children with neighbours.
Will the neighbours feed them?
The neighbours won’t give them anything. They’re also struggling.
The city’s hospital offers images that President Obama won’t see on his forthcoming trip to Africa. South Sudan will be high on his agenda, though, because the US helped to establish this country and now it is collapsing at war, economic misery and hunger. Its leaders have badly mismanaged the country and their civil war caused this looming famine. (3) Stable food prices have doubled. The next harvest is several months away. Memories of the horrific 1988 famine here are on everyone’s mind.
Does it remind you of 1988 a little bit?
Yes, it’s going to be like that actually.
Dr Dut Pioth spent his career treating illness. Now his ward is overrun with casualties of war.
This is the worst you’ve seen it here?
Yes, I have never seen such cases like this actually and in the coming month even the mortality will increase, actually.
Does it ever hemoglobin level?
Wow, she’s almost dead, I mean…
If thirty-year-old farmer Abuk Ajou Bol survives, Dr Dut will release her, but he predicts she’ll be back because the government is unable to address the starvation crisis. Starvation isn’t a medical issue, so all he can do when they are discharged is give them (4) petty cash from his own pocket.
We cannot solve this kind of problem, actually. Is it always [possible], you just can come and put your hand to your pocket? It’s very difficult, actually.
It’s common to see malnourished kids in such places.
Their every bit of energy goes into keeping their organs alive. They don’t cry, they don’t laugh, they don’t do anything.
But I’m always particularly alarmed when I see adults wasting away. That means famine is approaching. And if you’re wondering where are the men, well, the culture dictates they get first dibs on food.
In rural areas the crisis is much better. We took a series of helicopters to reach these internal refugees. They are among the (5) 1.5 million displaced south Sudanese lucky enough to have escaped massacres with reports of rapes and castrations. They settle near swamp land (6) because it’s one of the only places without fighting. It’s also without much food, unless you count the roots of water lilies which keep them alive.
UN agencies like the World Food Programme reach them with temporary outposts that end in airdrops. 1,100 bags that will last several months. Sure, food drops are life-saving, but what’s really needed above all is a major international effort to bring peace. I hope President Obama will push for that during his Africa trip.
When you see starving people, your impulse is to think that they just need food, (7) but south Sudanese can feed themselves if there is peace [=war].