JUBA MAY 13, 2016 (CISA) – Up to 5.3 million people in South Sudan may face a severe food shortages during this year’s lean season, nearly double the number in the first three months of the year, the UN World Food Programme has said.
“Internal food security analysis shows that South Sudan will face the most severe lean season in 2016 since its independence, driven by insecurity, poor harvests, and displacement in some areas of the country,” WFP said in a report early this week.
“As many as 5.3 million people may face severe food insecurity, with particular areas of concern in the non-conflict affected states of Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Eastern Equatoria.”
According to WFP from January to March, 2.8 million people were classed as being in “crisis” or “emergency” food situations, with about 40,000 thought to be suffering an outright famine.
The rising hunger comes despite attempts to end more than two years of war, which started in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir sacked his then first vice president Riek Machar, triggering ethnically charged violence.
President Kiir named a new cabinet in late April, including former rebels and members of the opposition, after Machar returned to Juba and got back his old job in accordance to a peace agreement signed by the two leaders in an effort to end the conflict.
During the 2015 lean season, which runs from March to September, about 4.6 million people were classed as severely “food insecure”, WFP said previously.
The most severe conditions are in Unity State, where a team of food security experts found a risk of “widespread catastrophe” during a visit late last year.
1.69 million South Sudanese are displaced within the country and another 712,000 have fled into neighbouring countries according to the UN whose humanitarian plan for South Sudan has received only 27 percent of the $1.29 billion needed.