Hunger and malnutrition are on the rise across the flood, drought, and conflict-affected areas of South Sudan, with some communities likely to face starvation if humanitarian assistance is not sustained and climate adaptation measures are not scaled-up, the United Nations warned.
The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), released today, shows about two-thirds of the South Sudanese population (7.76 million people) are likely to face acute food insecurity during the April-July 2023 lean season while 1.4 million children will be malnourished.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warn that the proportion of people facing high levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 [crisis] or above) and malnourishment is at the highest level ever, surpassing levels seen even during the conflict in 2013 and 2016.
The decline in food security and high prevalence of malnutrition is linked to a combination of conflict, poor macroeconomic conditions, extreme climate events, and spiralling costs of food and fuel. At the same time, there has been a decline in funding for humanitarian programmes despite the steady rise in humanitarian needs.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has warned of a “new hunger crisis lurking in the millions of people in South Sudan who are already suffering flood damage and a return to conflict.”
“As international attention is focused on Ukraine, a hidden hunger-related emergency is lurking in South Sudan, where some 8.3 million people in this country, including refugees facing extreme hunger in the coming months,” WFP said in a statement.
Peace Deal Did not End People Suffering
A peace deal was reached in 2018 to end violence events in the country. However, progress on the 2018 peace agreement for South Sudan has been extremely slow amid calls for urgent action to save lives.
The conflict in South Sudan has become increasingly complex but the level of suffering for millions of civilians remains intolerable.
South Sudan’s conflict has become increasingly complex but the level of suffering for millions of civilians remains intolerable, said UN experts visiting Ethiopia for talks with the African Union on the peace process. Members of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan were in Addis Ababa to urge African countries and other stakeholders to renew their support for implementation of the peace agreement for South Sudan, whose people face one of the gravest humanitarian crises in the region that rarely makes headlines.
“Every new extension of the timelines for implementation of the peace agreement, and indeed every passing day of inaction, means not just time lost, but lives lost,” warned UN Commissioner Barney Afako during the visit. “Every month we see thousands of South Sudanese cross borders, stream into the UN-run protection site or move around the country trying to dodge an ever-shifting mosaic of violence that hardly registers regionally or internationally. Aid agencies struggle even to raise enough money to feed the victims because South Sudan has become invisible in the wake of other crises around the world,” he added.
From 12 to 18 October 2022, they held meetings with the Africa Union (AU) leadership, departments and Member States, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), diplomatic corps and UN representatives, civil society and other actors.
Progress has been extremely slow in implementing the 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement for South Sudan. Under the agreement, a Hybrid Court, a Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH) and a reparations process should have been established more than two years ago. Core aspects of the peace agreement, including the unification of security forces, have been plagued by persistent dispute between the parties on allocation of ratios of representation and resources. The parties to the agreement have also consistently failed to meet deadlines set for critical reforms and the establishment of the transitional justice bodies, without a credible justification for the delays.