40,000 Starving to Death as S. Sudan Teeters on Famine: UN
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – At least 40,000 people are being starved to death in South Sudan war zones on the brink of famine, the United Nations said Monday, in a plea to rival forces to let aid in.
The figures released in a UN report describe some of the worst conditions yet in more than two years of a civil war marked by atrocities and accusations of war crimes, including the blockading of food supplies.
Conditions are "escalating", the UN said, with already over 2.8 million people needing aid, almost a quarter of the country.
"Nearly 25 percent of the country's population remain in urgent need of food assistance, and at least 40,000 people are on the brink of catastrophe," the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN children's agency UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP) said in a joint statement reported by AFP.
"Families have been doing everything they can to survive, but they are now running out of options," said UNICEF country chief Jonathan Veitch.
"Many of the areas where the needs are greatest are out of reach because of the security situation. It is crucial that we are given unrestricted access now."
The warning comes three months after the last UN-backed specialized hunger assessment, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report.
That October report warned of a "concrete risk of famine" without aid.
There has been no let up in the conflict and while some food has been delivered, civilians report dire conditions.
A year ago famine was averted only after a huge intervention by aid agencies.
The UN said conditions are "particularly worrisome" because they show an increase in hunger during the post-harvest period, when people should have the most food, warning that the hunger season will start earlier and last longer than normal.