Cape Town, Feb. 22, 2019 (dpa/NNN) Nearly seven million people in South Sudan will be at risk of acute food insecurity at the height of the lean season between May and July, three UN agencies warned on Friday.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Programme (WFP) said this in a joint report.

“Already, no fewer than 30,000 people are experiencing extreme food insecurity in Jonglei and Lakes States, in eastern and central South Sudan.

“Without foreign assistance, this number could rise to 260,000 people,’’ the agencies warned.

FAO’s South Sudan Representative, Pierre Vauthier, said “the projections are alarming.”

Some 860,000 children under the age of five are already severely malnourished, according to the report.

“Food insecurity in the poverty-stricken East African nation is driven by ongoing conflict, which disrupts families’ capacity to grow food, depletes livestock and causes displacement.

“In addition, drought, flooding, crop disease and pest infestation have decreased agricultural production.

“Local cereal production will only cover 52 per cent of the country’s cereal needs this year, compared to 61 per cent in 2018,’’ the report said.

South Sudan, founded in 2011, is the world’s youngest country.

In 2013, a split between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, triggered a civil war that has led to tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of 2.5 million people.

Warring parties signed a peace deal in September, 2018, which currently holds, though the ceasefire has already been broken by various groups. (dpa/NNN)


Edited by Fatima Sule and Olisa Ifeajika