January 29, 2013 (juba) – The World Food Programme (WFP) says it has provided assistance to some 185,000 people displaced by violence in South Sudan and is continuing to reach more each day, despite ongoing fighting.
- Displaced South Sudanese wait in line for food at the Dzaipi transit centre in Uganda (Photo: F. Noy/UNHCR)
The agency is currently ramping up relief efforts in the country as hunger looms for thousands of people affected by the conflict, which erupted in the capital on 15 December before spreading to other regions.
At a UN press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday, the WFP’s Elisabeth Byrs said the agency was also assisting tens of thousands of people who had fled across South Sudan’s borders into neighbouring countries.
Food distributions began on 26 January in Nimule, near the Ugandan border, where some 35,000 internally displaced persons have taken refuge.
Byrs said Nimule was among a number of food distribution points a across the country, including and Juba, Bentiu, Bor, Malakal, Leer, Mingkaman, Yirol East and Yirol West, Mabior, Aweng, Adjuong Thok and Maban county.
She said the agency was also continuing to provide regular food rations to Sudanese refugees living in camps in Unity and Upper Nile states.
The agency is set to provide emergency food assistance to up to 400,000 displaced people, including specialised nutritional support for new mothers and young children as part of a three-month-long $57.8 million operation.
Ongoing fighting in the country has caused widespread disruption to annual plantings and harvests, while mass displacement and insecurity has severely affected people’s ability to sustain their livelihoods.
Earlier this month, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the conflict had left the agricultural sector into turmoil, leading to an increased risk of food insecurity and malnutrition.
The WFP estimates that 10 percent of its food stocks in the country have been looted – enough to feed some 180,000 people for a month.
The Rome-headquartered FAO, estimated that some 4.4 million people were already facing food insecurity in South Sudan in 2014 prior to the outbreak of conflict, with 830,000 of those expected to face acute food insecurity.
Over 770,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, including 650,000 people within South Sudan and 123,000 people who have fled to neighboring countries, according to the latest estimates from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).