Real Risk of Famine in South Sudan This Year, UN Agencies Say

(Bloomberg) -- South Sudan, torn apart by a five-year civil war, risks sliding into famine this year if timely interventions are not made, according to the United Nations.

Nearly 7 million people in South Sudan could also face acute food insecurity at the height of the lean May-July season, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Food Programme said in an emailed statement on Friday.

About 30,000 people are already experiencing famine-like conditions in Jonglei and Lakes regions of eastern and central South Sudan. Without any assistance, the number without food could rise to 260,000 people, according to the agencies.

“There is a real risk of famine in those areas, which are already very food insecure, should the overall situation in the country deteriorate and should there be a prolonged absence of humanitarian assistance,” according to the statement.

The UN estimates local production in 2019 will only meet 52 percent of the country’s cereal needs, compared with 61 percent last year. The civil war has not only claimed the lives of 400,000 people and forced four million others to flee their homes, it has also slashed crude production, heralding economic chaos in the world’s youngest country.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.