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Friday, 25 April 2014

UN: South Sudan has one month left before worst starvation in recent African history


South Sudan – the world’s youngest country, will face one of the most devastating famines to date in a matter of weeks, if radical action to alleviate widespread hunger isn’t taken before the planting season, UN agencies have been saying in April reports.

The Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary-General for the UN Mission in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said in April that the next two months are crucial and would require an injection of an estimated $230 million in international aid. If this is not done quickly, South Sudan stands on the brink of the worst outbreak of starvation since the 1980s, when Ethiopia lost hundreds of thousands of people. Similar conclusions were echoed by UN agency heads for the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on visits to IDP and refugee sites and towns, as well as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). 

Almost a third of South Sudan’s nearly 10.8 million people face imminent starvation, the UN believes. If these assessments are correct, a little over a month remains before the crucial planting season ends, the rain hits, and the international community will be too late. 

The country’s problems are complex and multi-faceted, but the same obstacles keep popping up. A sharp resurgence in tribal violence that started in mid-December 2013 has displaced 800,000 people in a country where access to resources was already scarce, not to mention regulated by political interests.
Add to that the onset of the wet season, which complicates humanitarian access to far-flung communities spread out across South Sudan’s vast landmass, and one gets a recipe for disaster. 

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