The World Food Programme(WFP) and Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Thursday warned that 60,000 in South Sudan were staring at hunger due to recent inter-communal violence that has rocked Jonglei and Pibor regions.
A joint statement issued by the UN agencies in Juba said they were concerned that the violence has halted farming, which will slash harvests for the rest of the year and deprive communities of their key sources of nutrition.
“Recurring violence in Jonglei and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area in the eastern part of South Sudan has already displaced more than 60,000 people and is crippling the food security and livelihoods of growing numbers of people,” said the UN agencies.
The violence between Dinka and Murle communities that escalated late last year, has claimed hundreds of lives and has often involved cattle raiding, child abduction and looting.
“At the height of the main planting season, insecurity is preventing farmers from going to their fields to cultivate food crops and livestock keepers are not able to follow their traditional migratory patterns to graze their animals,” said Meshack Malo, FAO representative in South Sudan.
“When cattle raiding is part of the violence, communities lose animals essential to their livelihoods and cannot participate in productive agricultural activities, leading to greater food insecurity,” he added.
More than 430 metric tons of WFP food supplies have been lost due to the looting of warehouses in the regions affected by inter-tribal skirmishes.
“We simply cannot replace the calories milk given to children when livestock is taken and a year’s worth of milk is lost, and we barely have sufficient resources to meet current needs,” said Matthew Hollingsworth, WFP country director in South Sudan.
He said the violence risks causing long-term food insecurity crises in South Sudan.
According to an Integrated Food Security Phase Classification report, the Pibor Administrative Area now faces emergency levels of food insecurity.
The report said that earlier this year, three Jonglei counties had people who were classified in a “catastrophe” level of food insecurity.
“Their food security was only expected to improve if consistent humanitarian food assistance could be provided. But this has proved impossible because of the fighting in the area,” said the report.
It said that violence in eastern South Sudan is adding to the number of hungry people just when the country is currently in its annual lean season, with at least 6.5 million people or more than half of the country’s population already facing severe acute food insecurity and in need of humanitarian assistance. Enditem