By Munira Abdelmenan Awel
Unless speedy international support is granted to South Sudan, half of its population -- or 6.3 million people -- face a food crisis, while the number of people at risk of starvation could rise by another one million in the next three months, an international relief official said Thursday.
According to Rehana Zawar, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s country director in the Eastern African country, the country faces an acute food crisis. “Tens of thousands of families are at risk of starvation,” she said in a press release.
“Besides the challenges of restricted access to aid, the current level of aid can only help less than 50 percent of people in need,” she said.
“If things keep going the way they are, food sources will be extremely low, as food stocks run out in many parts of the country while the lean season of May to July approaches.”
“Our Rapid Response Teams are working overtime to deliver lifesaving aid to devastated areas, but needs are still overwhelming,” said Zawar, explaining the additional massive arrivals of displaced communities which resulted in mounting pressure on already limited resources.
Zawar urged the international community to act in time to save lives, saying: “We urgently need increased international support and resources for humanitarian aid, as well as free access to bring food and other emergency assistance to hard-hit communities. The only way to prevent a widespread famine is to act now before it’s too late.’’
Since 2013, South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan following a 2011 popular referendum, has remained the scene of a bloody civil war pitting government forces against armed opposition groups.
Despite a 2015 peace deal signed between the two sides, the conflict -- in which some 10,000 people are thought to have been killed -- remains ongoing.
The impact of the fighting has worsened the food crisis by causing the destruction of food production. Some two million people have fled their homes within the country, and another two million have fled as refugees.