Food insecurity at the highest level in South Sudan since independence

AGOK, SOUTH SUDAN – MARCH 2012: A scene in the village of Abathok during a distribution of seeds, agricultural tools and basic food products by the International Committee of the Red Cross to households in the villages around ‘Agok, South Sudan. About 15,000 people displaced by the fighting in May 2011 received sesame, peanut and sorghum seeds, as well as plowing tools and food to protect the seeds. (Photo by Tom Stoddart / Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO – A scene in the village of Abathok during a distribution of seeds, agricultural tools and basic foodstuffs by the International Committee of the Red Cross to households in villages around Agok, Sudan from South. / Getty Images

The people of South Sudan currently face the highest levels of food insecurity recorded since the country’s independence from Sudan 10 years ago, a UN official said on Wednesday.

More than 60 percent of the total estimated population of 12.78 million people are severely food insecure, said Reena Ghelani, director of operations and advocacy at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The United Nations estimated in December 2020 that 2.4 million people were facing emergency levels of acute food insecurity. Between April and July 2021, some 108,000 people faced catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity at the height of the lean season, she told the Security Council in a briefing on the situation. humanitarian aid in South Sudan.

“The combined effects of conflict, climate shocks, displacement, the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 and the lack of investment in basic infrastructure and services have made people feel even more secure. need, ”she said.

More than 8.3 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, including 1.4 million children, Ghelani said.

Aid agencies assisted some 4.4 million people across the country between January and June 2021 with food, medical and nutritional care, water and sanitation, protection support and a shelter. Despite these gains, there has been limited change in the behavior of non-state armed groups and some youth groups who continue to hinder access, she said.

Since the start of this year, four aid workers have lost their lives in the line of duty. And more than 170 aid workers had to relocate due to security threats, she said.

Destruction and looting of humanitarian facilities continued, including the looting of over 1,000 metric tons of food, valued at over US $ 1 million. In addition, frequent attacks on civilians and humanitarian convoys and roadside ambushes have disrupted operations and pushed up the prices of essential goods for an already vulnerable population, she said.

An alarming development this year has been the interference of aid activities by armed youth, she added.

Humanitarian needs were further exacerbated by exceptional flooding for a third consecutive year, affecting nearly 420,000 people to date. With more heavy rains expected in the coming months, thousands of people will be forced to leave their places and homes and will need assistance and livelihood support, Ghelani said.

As South Sudan emerges from the lean season with hopes for the harvest season, there is a risk that floods will reduce food security gains, which would contribute to recurring extreme food insecurity next year, a she warned.

South Sudan’s $ 1.7 billion humanitarian response plan is the largest ever for South Sudan. But it is only 56% funded, she said.

While resources are now needed for the humanitarian response plan to sustain the response, donors are urged to provide large-scale funding in early 2022, so that humanitarians can anticipate needs that are expected to increase.

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