JUBA, South Sudan -- James Abel only 11 years old, but he’s so malnourished he walks like an old man. His thin legs look as if they’ll break every time he takes a step.
“My parents are dead” is the only thing he said when he arrived at the Al Sabbah Children’s Hospital, which is supported by UNICEF, three weeks ago.
Head nurse Betty Achang told CBS News that Abel is severely traumatized after seeing his parents being shot in front of him. He barely eats the food he so desperately needs.
“He cries and he says he wants his mother and father,” Achang said.
Abel is just one more victim of South Sudan’s three-year civil war -- a war in which starvation is being wielded as a weapon.
One million children are in desperate need of food, but the fierce fighting means aid workers can’t reach the areas that need it most. There are critical food shortages now throughout the country.
“I just feel pain, what can we do? A school age child is supposed to be in school. A school age child is not supposed to be dying just like that,” Achang said.
Six-month-old Monica was just admitted. She weighs less than nine pounds and when her stick-like arms are measured, it shows up red on the tape measure.
“It means the child is severely malnourished,” Achang said.
There are so many children needing help that the hospital has run out of beds. Monica’s mother is given a mattress.
Here at least they will get some food and medical care, like two year old Bang Weda who is so weak he doesn’t even open his eyes to register the prick of a needle.
Hunger has sucked the spirit out of him. Just like this war has sucked the hope from this young country.
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