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UN says South Sudanese facing “hunger catastrophe”

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June 6, 2014 (JUBA) – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has continued airlift food items to hundreds of thousands of people in South Sudan to avoid what it describes as a “hunger catastrophe” in its inaccessible areas.

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UNICEF says children continue experience extreme suffering as a result of conflict in South Sudan and remain vulnerable to disease outbreaks (Photo: F. Noy/UNHCR)

At least four million people, a WFP spokesperson said, urgently need humanitarian aid in the next three months.

“The number of severely food insecure people has risen to nearly 1.3 million persons, an increase of 200,000 since January,” Elizabeth Byrs remarked on Friday.

Violence broke out in the South Sudanese capital, Juba last year and later spread to Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei, three of the country’s most-affected states. It is in these three states, Byrs said, that nearly three-quarters of the population are food insecure.

“The situation is worrying and concerning, but it could be avoided if we had access,” she observed, adding that “WFP appealed to all parties taking part in the conflict to facilitate unimpeded access before conditions deteriorated further.”

The UN agency has also appealed for $475 million until the end of the year to counter enormous logistic challenges during the rainy season.

Byrs, however, said that a convoy of barges carrying 1,200 metric tons of food had been sent from Juba and would sail to the Upper Nile capital, Malakal on 9 June.

NEW ATTACKS

Meanwhile, the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said some shelling occurred close to its base in Renk county of Upper Nile, where some displaced civilians were currently being sheltered.

“The Mission continues to call on all parties to respect the work and inviolability of UN premises and protection of civilian sites,” a spokesperson for the world body said on Friday.

A UN patrol in parts of Upper Nile state reportedly also observed that “most houses, as well as a hospital, have been destroyed and looted” by armed elements.

(ST)

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