Refugee agency pushes for greater humanitarian access in South Sudan

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An elderly woman holds her grandson while his mother prepares food at a secondary school in Malakal, capital of Upper Nile state. Access to the town has been affected by fighting.© UNHCR/K.Gebreegziabher

The health of refugees in South Sudan could become "severely compromised" unless food is delivered immediately, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Refugees from Sudan in the Maban camps in Upper Nile State last received food in February and may only access partial food rations this month.

Humanitarian access has been disrupted in South Sudan following internal conflict which erupted in December.

UNCHR and the World Food Programme (WFP) normally preposition food in the first quarter of the year but violent clashes in strategic river and road transport towns have made pre-positioning impossible.

Adrian Edwards is from UNHCR.

"Unless food is delivered immediately, the health and nutrition status of refugees will become severely compromised. We are in the dry season, the traditional hunger gap, when refugees are unable to grow food to supplement the WFP rations. The problem is not just food shortages but the safe passage of other humanitarian help too."

About one-third of the refugee population, including pregnant women, children under five years of age, as well as the old and infirm are at greatest risk.

Seasonal rains are expected to begin in April leading to greater vulnerability to water-borne diseases and malaria.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations.

Duration: 1’27″

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