S Sudan on verge of Africa's worst famine

2014-04-03 17:00
Displaced South Sudanese citizens wait at a Sudanese border checkpoint in Joda, where Sudan's White Nile state meets the South's Upper Nile, after fleeing battles between rebel and government forces. (Ashraf Shazly, AFP)

Displaced South Sudanese citizens wait at a Sudanese border checkpoint in Joda, where Sudan's White Nile state meets the South's Upper Nile, after fleeing battles between rebel and government forces. (Ashraf Shazly, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Geneva - War-torn South Sudan could become the scene of the worst famine catastrophe in Africa in decades without more aid and a ceasefire to let farmers reach their fields, the UN warned Thursday.

"If we miss the planting season, there will be a catastrophic decline in food security," Toby Lanzer, the UN's top aid official in the country, told reporters in Geneva.

"What will strike that country, and it will hit about seven million people, will be more grave than anything that continent has seen since the mid-1980s," he warned, referring to the massive famine in Ethiopia that shocked the world's conscience.

South Sudanese farmers usually plant their fields in April and May, but they have been unable to start this year amid a raging civil war.

"We've got 3.7 million people who are already at severe risk of starvation," Lanzer said.

If people can't make it to their fields in the next two months, he said, "it doesn't take much to imagine what will happen when the harvest is due in November and December: There won't be one".

Making matters worse, the violence has meant the UN agencies are having huge difficulty pre-positioning food stocks before the onset of the rainy season, when downpours will make already challenging roads even more difficult to navigate, he said.

Gravest humanitarian challenges

The violence in South Sudan erupted last December between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and fighters loosely allied to former vice president Riek Machar.

A ceasefire signed in January is in tatters.

More than 800 000 people are displaced inside South Sudan, while almost 255 000 have led to the neighbouring countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, the UN says.

Lanzer insisted on the need to quickly ensure enough security for people to feel it is safe to head to their fields, and to bring in far more aid in the form of seeds and tools to help get things started.

He said that donations so far had fallen far short of needs, with a UN appeal for nearly $1.3bn for aid to the country only a quarter funded.

The world body needed $232m to ensure only the bare minimum of humanitarian aid in South Sudan through the end of May, he said.

Lanzer said the UN was working hard to prevent the existing catastrophe from metastasising, stressing that "if that were to happen, it's going to cost people a whole lot more."

"We are facing certainly one of the gravest humanitarian challenges that I have every seen," said Lanzer, who has also served in East Timour, Darfur and the Central African Republic.

"And it could get a lot worse."
Read more on:    un  |  salva kiir  |  south sudan  |  east africa
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.