UN says 30,000 people on the brink of famine in South Sudan

JUBA. KAZINFORM Nearly seven million people in South Sudan are food insecure, with 30,000 on the brink of famine, UN agencies and the government warned on Friday, Xinhua reports.

A report released in Juba by the South Sudan Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP) revealed that the number of food insecure people grew from 6.1 million in 2018 to 6.8 million as of January 2019.

The report warned that out of the nearly 7 million food insecure people, 30,000 people are staring at famine in Jonglei and Lakes states, in the eastern and central parts of the world's youngest republic.

"The projections are alarming and food security continues to worsen. Together with the people of South Sudan, we need to act urgently to reverse this trend. Our priority is to support families to maintain and increase their production and help agro-pastoral communities preserve their livelihoods," said Pierre Vauthier, Acting FAO Representative in South Sudan.

Despite signing of a new peace deal in September last year, the report found that food insecurity continues to be driven by the cumulative effects of conflict, insufficient food production and displacement of people.

Should the overall situation in the country deteriorate and no humanitarian assistance is scaled up, there is a real risk of famine in those areas which are already very food insecure, the report said.

According to the UN, South Sudan's conflict which broke out in late 2013 has displaced at least 4 million people, including more than 1.87 million who are internally displaced while the rest of refugees have settled in neighboring countries.

More than five years of conflict in the east African nation continue to disrupt food production, deplete livestock and constrain people's access to alternative food sources, the UN said.

Poor people have been particularly vulnerable to high food prices and the limited availability of food in markets, it added.

"As access to those in need improves due to the peace process, we have been making significant progress in treating severe malnutrition in children, with a recovery rate above 80 percent," said Andrea Suley, Acting UNICEF Representative in South Sudan.

The report called for urgent humanitarian assistance to hard-hit areas to stop the affected population from sliding into famine.

"In order to prevent some of the populations falling into catastrophe... and to save their lives, urgent, sufficient and sustained multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance and unhindered humanitarian access is required," said Isaiah Chol, Chairman of the Bureau of Statistics.

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