Ben Curtis/Associated Press

An African regional organisation said about 60 per cent of people from South Sudan are facing “their worst food security” and nutrition crisis since the country became independent a decade ago.

The IGAD Climatic Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC) has issued a press release warning that South Sudan would be “facing one of the worst food security and nutrition crises globally”.

It said an estimated 7.2 million people, representing 60 per cent of the country’s population, are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity between now and the peak of the next lean season in July 2021.

The statement, received by PANA in Khartoum, said, of these, around 108,000 people are expected to be in “Catastrophe” by July mainly in Jonglei, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap States.

It stressed that of particular concern is Pibor County, where, according to the Famine Review Committee, Gumuruk, Pibor, Lekuangole, and Verteth are projected to face a “famine likely” situation while Kizongora and Maruwa will be at “risk of famine”.

The statement explained that the main drivers of food insecurity in the country are conflict, widespread flooding, COVID-19, and a protracted macroeconomic crisis.

It added that the nutrition situation remains critical, as an estimated 1.4 million children, under the age of five, are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition through 2021.

“Of these, about 313,000 are expected to suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), and therefore face an increased risk of death,“ it warned

It quoted a study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as arguing that a nutrition SMART survey conducted by UNICEF in Pibor, Akobo West and Tonj North counties, showed the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM), estimated at 21.6 per cent, 19.0 per cent, and 18.4 per cent respectively, which are “far above the internationally-agreed emergency threshold (15 per cent).”

Despite life-threatening levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in South Sudan, the humanitarian response remains largely underfunded.

Another report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Activities (OCHA) revealed that “as of April 29, 2021, just 19 per cent (US$ 313.5 million of US $1.7 billion) of the funding requirement for the 2021 humanitarian response plan had been met”.

It stressed that immediate, scaled-up humanitarian action to save lives and protect livelihoods is therefore required.

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