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UN declares South Sudan's "man-made" food insecurity a famine

UNICEF further warned millions of children in Yemen, Somalia and north-eastern Nigeria are also at risk of starvation.

 

The famine announcement is the first to be made in any part of the world in six years.

UNICEF further warned millions of children in Yemen, Somalia and north-eastern Nigeria are also at risk of starvation, but South Sudan is the first to declare one.

The South Sudanese government and humanitarian agencies on Monday declared a famine in parts of the country, which has been devastated by three years of ‘ethnic cleansing' inspired civil war.

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Aid agencies, including the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the children's fund Unicef, said that 4.9 million people (more than 40% of South Sudan's population) are in urgent need of food.

Head of the WFP in South Sudan, Joyce Luma, said that the famine was "man-made" after three years of conflict across the country stifled crop production and hit farmers and rural livelihoods.

Oil-rich South Sudan has been mired in civil war since 2013, when President Salva Kir fired his deputy Riek Machar. Since then the fighting has increasingly split the country along ethnic lines, leading the United Nations to warn of a potential genocide.

A famine is declared only when certain measures of mortality, malnutrition and hunger have been met such as at least 20 per cent of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope, acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 per cent and the death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 persons.

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South Sudan Unity State has sadly already met all the above conditions.

Gareth Owen, a humanitarian director at Save the Children warned of a major crisis if the world does not act quickly.

“Right now, in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, there are 12 million people affected by food insecurity, these three countries together look as bad as Somalia in 2011. If you add South Sudan on top of that, with that conflict, and Nigeria, you have millions more. And Yemen has 18 million people. That’s creating this real concern that we are facing a major crisis that we have not seen before.” He told the Guardian.

In all these food insecurity crises, one thing is constant though, all have been triggered and contributed by war.

UNICEF director, Anthony Lake has appealed for quick action and called for an increase in humanitarian assistance.

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"We can still save many lives," he said

The tragic case however is with the current ongoing conflicts across the world ‘Donor fatigue’ is a real danger and ordinary people may just feel worn out to help and with that millions of children could face imminent death.

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