Worst hunger crisis looming, NRC warns
Jan Egeland, Secretary General of Norwegian Refugee Council (L) and Adnan Khan Acting Humanitarian Coordinator (Photo: By Woja Emmanuel Wani):
By Woja Emmanuel Wani
Humanitarian organization-the Norwegian Refugee Council has warned that the country’s worst hunger situation is looming despite much efforts exerted by humanitarian organizations to avert rising food insecurity.
Jan Egeland the Secretary General for Norwegian Refugee Council yesterday said that more people are still living in very dire situations in higher needs of food and other essential backings.
“Since this young nation was born I have never seen in terms of more people in higher needs of food assistance than ever before in the years that I can recall. We need access to security for relief workers, civilians and more importantly an end to the conflict in the country,” Jan told reporters in Juba.
Egeland appealed to the warring parties to lay down arms and come together to educate the children and build the nation. He also asked for unanimous efforts by the parties in South Sudan, the neighbouring states and international community including the donors to make sure the ongoing peace talks succeed.
Food security experts warned in February that unless aid and access were maintained, 7.1 million South Sudanese would face ‘crises’ or worse ‘acute’ food insecurity between May and July. This is equivalent to two out of every three people in the country.
“From what I’ve witnessed and what displaced people tell me, a worst-case nightmare scenario is already on our doorstep. Widows tell me how their villages were burned to the ground, their husbands killed, and they are left with children they cannot feed nor protect,” Egeland said after visiting parts of former Unity State. “I am outraged by how rape has become a common feature of the conflict,” Egeland said.
Since the February warning, large parts of South Sudan have seen an upsurge in violence. Renewed fighting in parts of Unity State in April displaced thousands of civilians. Thousands of others have been forced from their homes in Equatorial States.
Meanwhile the Acting Humanitarian Coordinator Mr. Adnan Khan said that the Cessation of Hostilities agreement signed by the parties to the conflict is not being observed as more aid workers continued to be kidnapped and even killed in different parts of the country. He cited that there was need for respect of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.
Khan appealed to the parties to observe the ceasefire agreement and allow unrestricted movement of aid workers in their respective locations.
On Tuesday this week UNMISS reported that a convoy consisting of its peacekeepers came under attack while it was on a short patrol from the Mission’s Leer Temporary Base to Thakur in Mayendit County.
This however indicates a latest target on UN and aid workers in the country.
In 2017, 1,159 humanitarian access incidents were reported by aid agencies in South Sudan marking the highest number of incidents in a year compared to 908 in 2016 and 909 in 2015.
Thirty (30) aid workers were killed in 2017, making it the deadliest year for humanitarians since conflict began in December 2013.
Last year famine was declared in two counties of the former Unity State but due to sustained humanitarian assistance, the government and aid agencies managed to avert it.
A family with her children in a small grass thatched house in Mankien. Food is extremely hard to come by, and she cooks porridge using water lilies that she collects from a nearby river. Photo: Ingrid Prestetun/NRC