ROME, Dec 2 (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
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
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
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 news.trust.org)