Famine Is Making South Sudan the ‘Fastest Growing Refugee Crisis’
More than 5 million people in South Sudan will face food insecurity in the next few months, the World Food Program (WFP) reports.
While aid organizations are doing all they can to alleviate the crisis, the situation is growing worse.
WFP estimates 4.9 million people in South Sudan (more than 40% of the population) faced food insecurity between February and April 2017 and projects that number will grow to 5.5 million by July, after the nation's first crop harvest which has been less bountiful in recent years.
South Sudan’s 2016 crop harvest was 10% below the previous year’s output, the Food and Agriculture Organization reports, due to political instability and below average rainfall in regions like the Equatoria State.
Famine has been declared in two counties, affecting about 100,000 people, while a third, where famine was previously avoided by humanitarian assistance, has been reclassified as “famine likely to happen,” according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).
WFP assisted 2 million people in March, according to the report, including more than 48,000 children in the Upper Nile region, and more than 23,000 children in Mayendit County, one of the areas where famine has been officially declared.
South Sudan became independent in 2011. A civil war broke out in 2013. Though many regions have received consistent rainfall, food insecurity has escalated as a result of ongoing conflict and the massive displacement of people.
Children have suffered greatly from the conflict and food crisis – there are currently more than 1 million child refugees.
“The horrifying fact that nearly one in five children in South Sudan has been forced to flee their home illustrates how devastating this conflict has been for the country’s most vulnerable,” said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Add this to the more than one million children who are also displaced within South Sudan, and the future of a generation is truly on the brink.”
There are 1.9 million internally displaced people in South Sudan (62% of them children) and 1.7 million South Sudanese refugees, the United Nations (UN) reports.
Dubbing South Sudan, “the fastest growing refugee crisis,” the UN urged donors on Monday to increase support for the nation’s $1.4 billion response plan which remains 14% funded.
“The number of people fleeing to Sudan in March surpassed the expected figure for the entire year,” the UN said.
The WFP requires $91.6 million in funding between now and October, according to the report, which will provide immediate food aid and help develop infrastructure like roads and water control dykes.
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