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UN agencies: South Sudan at risk of ‘hunger catastrophe’

30 June 2016

The level of food insecurity in South Sudan is at the highest since the start of the conflict two and a half years ago, United Nations agencies warned on 29 June.

“Up to 4.8 million people in South Sudan – well over one-third of the population – will be facing severe food shortages over the coming months and the risk of a hunger catastrophe continues to threaten parts of the country,” according to a statement from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The UN officials have said they are very worried about the food insecurity spreading beyond areas of conflict, as rising prices, impassable roads and dysfunctional markets prevent families from accessing food. Sharp spikes are being seen in Eastern Equatoria or Western Bahr el-Ghazal, whose capital, Wau, was the site of recent fighting recent fighting which uprooted tens of thousands of people.

Given the lack of access to food, child malnutrition is among the main concerns. More than 100,000 children treated for severe malnutrition since the start of the year – an increase of 150 per cent since 2014, according to UNICEF.

The three UN agencies said despite the difficult circumstances, they would work with international and local non-governmental organizations to deliver life- and livelihood-saving support.

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