Hunger on the rise in South Sudan

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Two-year-old, Kuot is being treated for severe acute malnutrition, at the UNICEF-supported Al-Shabbah Children's Hospital, in Juba, South Sudan. Photo: UNICEF/Sebastian Rich

Nearly three million people in South Sudan, or roughly a quarter of the population, require food assistance.

That's according to three UN agencies which are concerned by what they are calling an escalating food crisis in the country.

They say that at least 40,000 people are "on the brink of catastrophe" due to rising hunger during the harvest period, with a harsh and prolonged lean period expected this year.

Dianne Penn reports.

The warning comes from the Food and Agriculture Programme (FAO), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The three UN agencies say the number of people facing hunger in South Sudan is expected to peak during the lean season, which is usually worst between April and July.

They also predict that it will start earlier and last longer than in previous years.

Furthermore, the start of the dry season, which is happening now, could add to the hardship faced by people, particularly those in conflict-affected areas.

South Sudan became independent in 2011, making it the world's youngest nation.

However, it has been plagued by more than two years of violence stemming from a political impasse between the country's leader and his former vice-president.

The UN agencies are calling for swift implementation of a peace agreement signed last August, and for unrestricted access to conflict areas so that they can deliver aid to those in need.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'04"


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