South Sudan: Famine Looms As Violence Continues

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned more than 5 million people – almost half the population – in South Sudan could face acute hunger over the next few months.

The warning comes as violence in the country continues and the lean season approaches – a time when hunger typically worsens. WFP singles out the country’s conflict as a major factor in civilians being unable to meet their basic food needs.

 

At least 5.3 million at risk

WFP warns at least 5.3 million people in South Sudan are at risk over the coming months. The UN agency has said almost $230 million is urgently needed to provide food and nutritional assistance to people over the next six months.

“This is a significant funding gap at a critical time of year: we need to scale up support during the lean season, and we need to pre-position life-saving food in places that become inaccessible during the rainy season,” the UN said in a statement.

Earlier this year, 2.8 million people were considered to be in a food crisis or emergency situation, including 40,000 believed to be suffering from famine. The number of those in food crisis is expected to roughly double over the next few months while the victims of famine are expected to increase as well.

 

Conflict hurting food security

WFP says South Sudan’s worst lean season since gaining independence and ongoing conflict are the major contributors.

“Internal food security analysis shows that South Sudan will face the most severe lean season in 2016 since its independence, driven by insecurity, poor harvests, and displacement in some areas of the country,” the organisation said.

These statements come as South Sudan’s leading armed opposition group has accused the army once again of breaching the nation’s peace agreement. The opposition group’s leader, Riek Machar, returned to South Sudan from exile last month to reclaim his role as vice president in the country. He is tasked with establishing peace in South Sudan alongside his biggest rival, President Salva Kiir. So far, little appears to have changed since the pair reunited in Juba as the violence continues.

 

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By Steve Evanshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/babasteve/5804070454/in/photostream, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16449565