Civil war crippled food production as hunger looms in S. Sudan

More and more people are at risk of hunger in the conflict-stricken African nation of South Sudan as civil war has crippled food production, two United Nations agencies reported Tuesday.

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South Sudan has been gripped by a violent power struggle between the government and rebels since December 2013.food

Tens of thousands have been killed and more than 2.3 million displaced, and a peace deal signed in August has not ended the conflict.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said the country had a cereal deficit of 381,000 tonnes, more than twice last year’s levels, leading to a five-fold hike in cereal prices.

“Some 5.8 million people, or nearly half of the country’s population, are unsure where their next meal will come from, while the rate of severe food insecurity has now reached 12 per cent, double the rate of one year ago,” the FAO and WFP said in a joint statement.

According to the WFP’s top official for South Sudan, the country “is facing a deadly blend of conflict, economic hardship and poor rains. Together, they are worsening a hunger gap that we fear will force more people to go hungry and increase malnutrition.”

The two Rome-based UN agencies said more than 90 per cent of South Sudan land is arable, but when the country gained independence from Sudan in 2011 only 4.5 per cent was actually cultivated. The percentage has further declined since then, due to the civil war.

The FAO said it was planning to spend 45 million dollars to develop South Sudan’s agriculture this year, but needs 16.1 million dollars in donations to meet the target. The WFP appealed for 241 million dollars from the international community to distribute emergency food aid.

Source: GNA

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