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South Sudan no longer in starvation, but situation is critical

22 June 2017

South Sudan no longer has areas in famine, but nearly 2 million people are on the brink of starvation and an estimated 6 million people — half the population — will face extreme food insecurity between June and July, according to reports by the government and the United Nations released Wednesday.

In February, South Sudan declared that two counties in Unity State were experiencing starvation. Immediate and sustained humanitarian assistance most likely played a significant role in preventing the Koch and Panyijiar counties from deteriorating into starvation.

An estimated six million people, half the population, were expected to be in a "crisis, emergency or catastrophe situation" this month and next, 500,000 more than in May, the report by government and United Nations officials said.

In former Jonglei state, an area that previously had one of the lowest levels of acute malnutrition, roughly 20,000 people are experiencing catastrophic food insecurity.

Worsening conditions are mirrored across the country. "If we don't assist this population, 1.7 million people will soon be in starvation".

"The crisis is not over".

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"Immediate and sustained humanitarian response helped in preventing further deterioration in to starvation", said WFP'S Country Representative Joyce Luma.

"The only way to stop this desperate situation is to stop the conflict, ensure unimpeded access and enable people to resume their livelihoods".

The agencies described the situation as the worst hunger catastrophe since the beginning of the conflict.

"How can we be at this stage where people are starving and we're dropping bags of food from the air?"

"The gains made in the famine-affected counties show what can be achieved when sustained assistance reaches families".

According to the official definition of starvation, the situation in South Sudan would appear to have improved. "An end to this conflict is imperative".

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At a June 21 press conference Cardinal Peter Turkson, the prefect of the dicastery for Integral Human Development, outlined the plans approved by Pope Francis to address the humanitarian disaster in South Sudan. This projected number in June-July 2017 is up from 1.0 million projected for February-April 2017 period in the last IPC report.

Farming communities have been driven from their homes, leaving fields unharvested and markets disrupted, and food prices have soared.

Tens of thousands of people have died and millions displaced since fighting erupted in the country more than three years ago.

The UN agencies said that tree years of conflict have undermined crop production across the country. As part of it its multi-sectoral approach to addressing the issue, UNICEF has also provided 500,000 people with safe drinking water and a further 200,000 people with access to sanitation facilities.

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South Sudan no longer in starvation, but situation is critical