February 22, 2017
The working group of government and international aid agencies that monitors the food situation in South Sudan has today declared that famine conditions now exist in some parts of the country. An estimated 100,000 people are currently facing starvation. A formal famine declaration is not made until people are actually dying from hunger.
The two areas identified are both in Unity State but according to the report from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) another one million people in several other regions are at immediate risk and 4.9 million, more than 40 per cent of the population, are in urgent need of food, agriculture, and nutrition assistance.
The joint project involving Veterinarians without Borders/Vétérinaires sans frontières (VWB/VSF) and its partners VSF Germany and VSF Suisse is not active in the famine affected areas. However, VSF Suisse is working in that part of Unity State through another project. There are large areas of Northern Bahr El Ghazal where VWB/VSF is partnering with VSF Suisse that are classified as being in an emergency situation – the level immediately below a state of famine -- and the entire project area is designated as a crisis zone. The focus of VWB/VSF’s work in South Sudan is to prevent food insecurity by helping local farmers increase production.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and other agencies have been working frantically for months to prevent the tragedy that is currently unfolding.
"Famine has become a tragic reality in parts of South Sudan and our worst fears have been realised. Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive," said FAO Representative in South Sudan Serge Tissot. "The people are predominantly farmers and war has disrupted agriculture. They've lost their livestock, even their farming tools. For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch."
According to UN representatives, the situation has deteriorated since a renewed outbreak of fighting in July 2016. Officials are concerned that they will not be able to mount an effective relief effort without an improvement in the peace and security situation.