"Race against time" to assist food insecure South Sudanese

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South Sudanese refugees – UNMISS

The United Nations is in a "race against time" to deliver aid to 3.7 million people who are at severe risk of starvation in South Sudan.

That's what Toby Lanzer, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in the country told reporters in Geneva on Thursday.

According to the UN lead humanitarian agency, OCHA, an estimated 78 per cent of South Sudan's rural population relies on various aspects of agriculture for their livelihoods.

The months of April and May are the planting season but people cannot go to their fields to sow their seeds because it is unsafe, Mr. Lanzer said.

"We are facing certainly one of the greatest humanitarian challenges that I have ever seen. And it exceeds what I saw in Darfur. But it could get a lot worse. And we need to prepare ourselves for that. So my message to donors is don't be shy don't wait every dollar that is given today can enable us to help flood South Sudan with seeds, with tools, fishing nets, to help enable people to look after themselves, it will also help us pre-position relief so that when the rainy season begins, relief will be in key locations and we can continue to help people during the second half of the year. So we are in a race against time."  (40″)

Mr. Lanzer, who is also Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in South Sudan, called on the negotiators in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to cease-hostilities to allow people to carry on with the planting season.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration:  1’32″

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