UN warns of worsening food insecurity in South Sudan

South Sudanese children

South Sudanese children

An estimated 4.6 million people will be unable to meet their food needs in South Sudan by July 2015, a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – UNOCHA shows.

The figure indicates that the number of people facing severe food insecurity has almost doubled since the start of this year from 2.5 million people. This is the highest number of people at crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity since the start of the conflict in Africa’s newest country in December 2013.

“By July 2015, the situation will deteriorate even further to an estimated 4.6 million people classified as severely food insecure (3.6million in crisis and 1million in emergency situations). This represents approximately 40 per cent of the South Sudan population,” The report published by ReliefWeb, a specialized digital service of the UN- OCHA reads in part.

The deepening food insecurity is a result of protracted conflict and insecurity which affected the planting season in 2014 and led to abnormal migration of livestock and limited market functionality, the report adds.

High food prices caused by rising inflation and depreciation of the local currency, diminishing purchasing power and depletion of household stocks lead to high cost of living. Child malnutrition also continues to be a concern. Malnutrition rates remain above the emergency threshold of 15 percent in both conflict-affected and high-burden states.

Nearly one in three children under five is malnourished in the worst-hit areas of Greater Upper Nile, Warrup and Northern Bahr el Ghazal. To date, approximately 874,000 children under the age of five lack access to food.

“Humanitarian partners are concerned about the deterioration of the food security and nutrition situation in South Sudan. This, combined with near economic decline, means that more people, will not have enough to feed their families,” adds the report.

UN-OCHA adds that resources are urgently needed to reach those who are most desperate and to prevent further deterioration of the Situation.

Meanwhile Adrian Edwards, the spokesperson of the UN Refugee agency – UNHCR warned that the exodus is placing huge pressure on South Sudan’s neighbors especially Uganda . He said that with funding for lifesaving projects at only 10 percent, there’s no guarantee of supplying refugees with the basics, like clean water and food.