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South Sudan lauds humanitarian efforts to avert famine

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FAO's José Graziano da Silva and WFP's David Beasley visit IDPs in Unity region South Sudan on 24 May 2017 (WFP Photo)
June 21, 2017 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government welcomed and commended, on Wednesday, the joint national and international efforts collaboratively exerted to avert famine from occurring in the east African country.

These efforts were the result of the immediate and sustained multi-sector humanitarian assistance delivered to the population in the conflict-affected areas where the government is fighting opposition armed groups since over three years.

“This encouraging result clearly reflects the commitment the government has made to provide unfettered access to the humanitarian organisations to all parts of the country,” said Cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomuro to Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.

"It is through these concerted efforts that the famine has been averted and as the government, we would like to commend and appreciate the work of the humanitarian organisation and reaffirm our commitment to working together to improve the situation," he added.

Minister Lomuro, who is also the head of the South Sudanese task force responsible for monitoring and coordinating administrative efforts to remove blockages and provide access to humanitarian agencies, said the government would continue to exert more efforts in this respect.

He was reacting to the reports that were released on Wednesday by South Sudan’s National Bureau of Statistics and the UN’s updated food and security analysis which showed famine was no longer taking place. The report, however, warned that the situation remains desperate as the number of people at risk of starvation increased during May.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report shows 1.7 million people are still facing emergency levels of hunger, one step below famine.

In February, South Sudan declared two counties in Unity State as famine-hit areas.

The IPC report says the current situation in the areas has improved, however, there are certain areas still in critical condition. Though early detection and a rapid response succeeded in pulling them out of famine and grouped them under a Phase 5 classification, according to the World Food Program analysis.

The UN had warned of a worsening humanitarian situation and emphasised that downgrading the level of existing famine in the region does not mean the situation has completely improved. An estimated 45,000 people are still facing starvation in Leer, Koch and Mayendit Counties, with additional areas across the country having deteriorated as well.

The report shows former Jonglei State which had one of the lowest levels of acute malnutrition with roughly 20,000 people currently experiencing catastrophic food insecurity.

Yei, Lainya, Morobo, Kajo-Keji and Magwi, which were areas in Equatoria region classified as greenbelt areas are facing crisis and emergency levels of acute food insecurity. The conflict in the country is an attributing cause that has driven people out of their homes, resulting and subsequently leading to severe effects on agricultural activities and markets.

The Western Upper Nile region is equally experiencing food insecurity, especially in Manyo, Panyikang, and Fashoda where large displacements have occurred due to the ongoing armed conflict. Through a situational analysis, it has been found that former Northern Bahr el Ghazal State is facing severe food insecurity caused by high food prices and diminished household purchasing power.

While Western Bahr el Ghazal State saw a rise in armed conflict in the counties of Wau and Raga, the disruption of trade, displaced of populations, and livelihoods have been destroyed.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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