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“Unprecedented” numbers face severe hunger in South Sudan – U.N

ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) –
Some 3.6 million people in South Sudan face severe food shortages – the
highest levels ever experienced at harvest time – and the crisis is
likely to worsen when food from the current harvest runs out next year,
the World Food Programme (WFP) said.


The country’s hunger levels have doubled since last year, the U.N. agency said in a report released on Friday.
Nearly
60 percent of the population of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state is
affected, 56 percent in Unity, and 47 percent in Western Bahr el Ghazal.

“The
scale of food insecurity remains unprecedented in South Sudan, despite
seasonal improvements that are typical of the harvest season,” WFP said.

The
number facing severe hunger is expected to rise to 4.6 million between
January and April next year, and increase even more from May to July
unless aid is scaled up, it added.
“Food … insecurity
is anticipated to further deteriorate … to the highest levels ever in
the lean period, unless the humanitarian response is stepped up further
to an unprecedented level,” the U.N. agency said.

South
Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 when a row between
President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy, Riek Machar, ended with
fighting that often erupted along ethnic fault lines.
A peace deal was signed in 2015 but violations have been frequent, and heavy fighting broke out again in July.

More than a million people have fled to neighbouring countries and another 1.87 million people are internally displaced.
The
conflict has stopped farmers from reaching their farms in several parts
of the country including the main food basket in the Greater Equatoria
region, WFP said.

The fighting and tumbling oil
production and prices have hammered South Sudan’s economy. Inflation has
shot to 835 percent in the year to October, while the official value of
the pound has plummeted.
Conflict and insecurity have cut off trade routes and disrupted imports.
U.N.
officials told Reuters on Thursday that attacks on aid workers and
bureaucratic interference are preventing supplies from reaching tens of
thousands of desperate South Sudanese who have fled their homes amid
escalating violence.

Last month, the U.N. Food and
Agriculture Organization said there was a growing “risk of famine”
especially among the country’s most vulnerable communities.

(Reporting
by Alex Whiting, Editing by Ros Russell.; Please credit the Thomson
Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers
humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate
change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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