March 4, 2017 (JUBA) - Thousands of people in South Sudan will starve unless relief workers gain access to needy populations and more funding is raised, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien warned on Friday last week.
- Stephen O’Brien (right), Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefs journalists on the humanitarian situation in South Sudan (UN Photo)
O’Brien, also the U.N Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, travelled to Ganyiel, one of the most volatile areas located south of Unity state.
The senior U.N official, in one of his postings on social media, said humanitarian partners like International Red Cross, have set up clinics in swamps to reach people.
"Some people with nothing to eat survived by chewing on water lilies," wrote O’Brien.
“Millions of people prevented from receiving aid by parties to conflict. Immoral, unlawful and unacceptable. We need access now,” he added.
On 20 February, the U.N declared famine in parts of South Sudan and attributed lack of food and a collapsing economy on the rival forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and the armed opposition of Riek Machar.
The declaration of famine meant people had already started dying of hunger.
About 100,000 people are facing starvation, and an additional one million are on the brink of a famine, according to the UN. The total number of food insecure people, it said, is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis.
Meanwhile, humanitarian agencies have appealed for $1.6 billion to provide life-saving assistance and protection to 5.8 million people across South Sudan in 2017.