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S. Sudanese refugees could reach 3 million in 2018: UN

November 12, 2017 (JUBA) - The number of South Sudanese forced to flee the country could reach the 3 million mark if the war continues by the end of next year, a top United Nations official said.

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Sudanese refugees in a refugees camp in Maban, South Sudan (WFP Photo)

This was revealed by Arnauld Akodjenou, the regional coordinator for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) for South Sudan, after he visited four of the six countries which are hosting South Sudanese refugees, including northern Uganda, which is hosting over a million people.

The senior UN official, in his assessment of the humanitarian situation, gave some horrific accounts of what he witnessed during his visit to the various countries that currently host South Sudanese refugees.

Last week, the world body said 1.25 million people are facing starvation as the conflict in the war-torn nation enters its fourth year.

The government and aid groups warned that country could once again plunge into famine in 2018, if the conflict continues unabated.

Famine was early this year declared famine in two counties of South Sudan’s Unity State, where about 100,000 people were affected.

Meanwhile, in response to last week’s Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) global alert, the international humanitarian organization, Action Against Hunger issued an urgent call for political leadership to end the conflict-driven hunger crisis in South Sudan.

According to the IPC alert, in the worst-case scenario, famine is possible in 2018 in multiple locations throughout the war-hit nation.

"It is not unusual to see seasonal spikes—or declines—in levels of hunger in different parts of the country," said Guy Halsey, the country director for Action Against Hunger in South Sudan.

"But what we are seeing is devastating. Prevalence of acute malnutrition has exceeded the emergency threshold throughout the country,” he added.

At least 45 percent of the South Sudanese population will face severe food insecurity during this year’s harvest season (October to December) when food is usually most plentiful, the government and various humanitarian agencies said in the IPC alert issued last week.

The conflict in South Sudan has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced nearly two million since it broke out in December 2013.