As many as 7.1 million people or more than half the population of South Sudan would not know where their next meal come from, in the absence of humanitarian assistance, the World Food Programme (WFP) said.
Hunger peaks during the annual lean season when food is most scarce before the next harvest.
WFP spokesperson Bettina Luescher said at a UN briefing “WFP and partners aim to reach up to 4.8 million hungry people with assistance in the worst-affected areas of South Sudan at the height of the lean season in June and July,” she said.
At the same UN briefing, Christophe Boulierac, spokesperson for the UN children’s fund UNICEF said that more than one million children are acutely malnourished, with hundreds of thousands at risk of dying in South Sudan.
WFP said that without a sustained, comprehensive response, millions of people are at risk for a fifth straight year of conflict.
Of special concern are Southern Unity state and Pibor County in Jonglei state. The fear is that rising hunger may reach catastrophic levels without a concerted emergency response.
The international community stepped up efforts when famine was declared in South Sudan in February 2017 and funded a huge response that ended the famine by June.
According to WFP, humanitarian assistance alone cannot solve South Sudan’s problems.”Only a political solution can provide the peace needed for people to rebuild their lives and livelihoods,” said Luescher.
Food insecurity has worsened across South Sudan because of conflict since 2013 and economic collapse, which continue to destroy lives and livelihoods.
The number of displaced people and refugees only increases as more people become destitute and depend on assistance to stay alive, said WFP.