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Iran Press TV

4.8 million S Sudanese face hunger: UN agencies

Iran Press TV

Wed Jun 29, 2016 5:54PM

Three United Nations agencies have warned of a hunger disaster in the crisis-hit South Sudan, saying up to 4.8 million people face critical food shortages.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) issued the warning in a joint statement released on Wednesday.

"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" the statement read.

It further warned of an "unprecedented" level of food insecurity in the African country, saying the worsening situation there "coincides with an unusually long and harsh annual lean season, when families have depleted their food stocks and new harvests are not expected until August."

Meanwhile, the WFP said it expected to assist 3.3 million people this year with life-saving nutrition support, emergency food assistance and other aid.

"We are very worried to see that food insecurity is spreading beyond conflict areas as rising prices, impassable roads and dysfunctional markets are preventing many families ... from accessing food," said Serge Tissot, FAO's acting representative in South Sudan.

According to estimates by the the UN agencies, 100,000 people have fled South Sudan to other countries such as Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo over the past few months. The figure is also expected to hit 150,000 by the end of June.

South Sudan plunged into chaos in December 2013, when fighting erupted in the capital, Juba, between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and defectors led by his former deputy, Riek Machar, around Juba.

The conflict soon turned into an all-out war between the army and the defectors, with the violence taking on an ethnic dimension that pitted the president's Dinka tribe against Machar's Nuer ethnic group.

The ongoing violence in South Sudan comes despite a ceasefire agreement reached between government troops and rebels last August. Both sides have on numerous occasions traded accusations of violating the internationally-mediated truce.

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