Officials have declared famine in two counties of South Sudan, USA Today reports.
The South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has drastically impacted the war-torn East African nation.
More than 100,000 people in two counties of Unity state are experiencing famine and there are fears that it will spread. An announcement of the devastating conditions stated that an additional 1 million South Sudanese citizens are on the brink of starvation.
“Our worst fears have been realized,” said Serge Tissot who is the head of Food and Agriculture in South Sudan.
Roughly 5.5 million people—50 percent of South Sudan’s population—are expected to be food insecure and at risk of death in the coming months. The report also added that nearly three-quarters of all households in the country suffer from inadequate food.
If aid doesn’t reach children quickly, “many of them will die,” Jeremy Hopkins, head of the U.N. children’s agency said. More than 350,000 children are severely malnourished he said, meaning they are at risk of death.
This isn’t the first time the region has battled famine and starvation. In 1998, when the territory fought for independence from Sudan, it suffered from a famine spurred by civil war. Anywhere from 70,000 to several hundred thousand people died as a result.
“This famine is man-made,”said Joyce Luma, head of the World Food Program in South Sudan. “There is only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and security.”