Food security worsens in war-torn South Sudan
Food security is worsening in South Sudan due to ongoing conflict, poor harvest and surging inflation with around half of the estimated over 12 million population facing hunger across the war-torn East African nation, according to a new report released on Wednesday.
The observations were made as part of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification report prepared by the government, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, UN Children's Fund and World Food Programme.
Famine has been formally declared in South Sudan and the food security situation is of grave concern and 100,000 people were facing famine in Leer and Mayendit counties, part of former Unity State, while there was an "elevated risk" that similar conditions existed in two nearby counties.
Speaking with reporters in the capital Juba, National Bureau of Statistics head Isaiah Chol Aruai said: "The overall food security and nutrition situation has further deteriorated due to armed conflict, economic crisis and below-average harvests that were exhausted well before the ongoing lean season."
According to the joint report, more than 6 million people are expected to be "severely food-insecure" this month and next, compared with 5.5 million in May, Aruai said.
Famine is no longer occurring in two counties of Leer and Mayendit where famine was declared in February, while further shortages were avoided in Koch and Panyijar, but access to food has been dramatically reduced in areas suffering civil conflicts, he said.
The civil war in South Sudan began in December 2013 amid a power struggle within the country's ruling SPLM party between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy and long-time rival Riek Machar; the conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead, forced more than 3.5 million to flee their homes and caused economic collapse.
On Tuesday, the UN's Refugees Agency warned in a new report that South Sudan had the world's fastest growing refugee population last year and could be the next Syria.