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19 Dec 2014
Refugees from Sudan’s war-torn Blue Nile State at a site called Kilometre 18 in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State are living under makeshift tents. © Hannah McNeish/IRIN
The race is on to get food into South Sudan now that the dry season has started to avoid a “hunger catastrophe”, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
Announcing the development Friday the UN agency said 2.5 million people there will start the New Year not knowing where their next meal is coming from.
World Food Programme’s Elizabeth Byrs said it was essential to start delivering food aid now that the roads are starting to clear.
“We need to say this opportunity at the beginning of the dry season to start pre-positioning; roads are drying out slowly and we are sending trucks and it allows us to use less airlift operation because it costs six to seven times more than by trucks or barge along the river.” (24″)
Malnutrition levels in South Sudan are dire according to the UN agency, which needs 341 million dollars for the country in the next six months.
World Food Programme says the hunger crisis is man-made, while spokesperson Byrs called on warring parties to lay down their weapons so that aid can get through.
Looting and insecurity continue to hamper the aid effort although WFP has delivered more than 185,000 tonnes of food to South Sudan by air, road and boat since the start of the year.
More than a million people have fled their homes in South Sudan since fighting broke out last December between government and rebel forces.
Daniel Johnson, United Nations