JUBA – The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that South Sudan is facing the worst levels of food insecurity in the young country’s history because of a combination of conflict, high food prices and a worsening economic crisis.
The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, released today, confirmed fears that unrelenting conflict and the onset of the lean season are intensifying alarming levels of hunger – both in conflict-affected areas and in other parts of the country.
“Millions of people in South Sudan are trapped by a terrible mix of brutal conflict, rising hunger and a deepening economic crisis,” said Joyce Luma, WFP’s Representative and Country Director in South Sudan. “A staggering number of people are going hungry. This analysis is a chilling reminder to the world that South Sudan cannot be forgotten.”
According to the IPC results, about 4.6 million people, or 40 percent of South Sudan’s estimated population, face acute hunger in the next three months and will require urgent lifesaving food or livelihoods assistance.
WFP is concerned that deteriorating economic conditions could quickly make things even worse. WFP also fears that that a lack of funding and shrinking humanitarian access are compromising relief agencies’ ability to meet South Sudan’s escalating needs.
The direst conditions are in the three conflict-affected states of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity, where fighting continues to displace large numbers of people in very remote areas. Conflict prevents people from growing food and disrupts markets. Along with harassment by parties to the conflict, it also limits humanitarian agencies’ ability to reach those in need.
Food insecurity is also deepening in states that were not directly affected by conflict, such as Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal, where high food prices, rising inflation, depreciation of the local currency and diminishing purchasing power are pushing many families closer to the brink.
“The needs are overwhelming at a time when resources are short. We need significantly more funding, not only to continue our existing assistance but also to scale up to support more people as the situation worsens,” said Luma. “We are now having to prioritize our assistance to focus on the most critical needs, and without additional resources those decisions will only get more difficult, and more people may have to go without help.”
WFP currently has a funding shortfall of US$230 million for its food and nutrition assistance and is revising its requirements to help the growing number of people affected by conflict.
WFP is using all means at its disposal – including airdrops, river boats, and distributions of food, cash or vouchers – to reach hungry people in conflict zones with life-saving emergency food and nutrition. WFP is supporting vulnerable families in other parts of South Sudan with programmes to improve food security, including school meals and asset-creation initiatives.
The IPC analysis was conducted by food security and humanitarian assessment specialists from a number of aid and development agencies, along with technical experts from the South Sudanese government. According to the analysis, famine is not predicted anywhere in South Sudan in the next three months, but it will become a serious risk in some areas later in the year unless adequate humanitarian assistance can be delivered.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 75 countries.
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