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UN: South Sudan out of Famine Zone, but Still on Brink


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  • An estimated 45,000 people still face starvation in Leer, Koch and Mayendit counties.
    An estimated 45,000 people still face starvation in Leer, Koch and Mayendit counties. | Photo: AFP
“Even though we’ve taken famine off the table, we now have more people in Phase 4. If we don’t assist, 1.7 million people will soon be in famine.”

On Wednesday, the United Nations declared that South Sudan has moved out of the famine zone.

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South Sudan’s National Bureau of Statistics and the UN’s food and security analysis reports, both expressed that the situation still remains critical.

“People are in a catastrophic situation,” said Serge Tissot, of the Food and Agricultural Organization.

The UN further warned that South Sudan’s crisis is worsening and just because the label of famine has been removed, doesn’t mean the situation has actually improved.

“Even though we’ve taken it (famine) off the table, we have more people in Phase 4 than ever before,” said Joyce Luma, World Food Program’s country director. “If we don’t assist this population, 1.7 million people will soon be in famine.”

At the briefing, the UN pointed out that almost 2 million people are still on the brink of starvation and an estimated 6 million people — half the population — will face extreme food insecurity between June and July.

In February, South Sudan declared that two counties in Unity State were experiencing famine. The WFP reassured, that although those areas are still in critical condition, early detection and a rapid collective response succeeded in pulling them out of famine – a Phase 5 classification.

In former Jonglei State, an area that previously had one of the lowest levels of acute malnutrition, roughly 20,000 people are experiencing catastrophic food insecurity.

At a recent food distribution drive in the town of Old Fangak in Greater Jonglei, 10,000 people registered for a WFP food drop with 30,000 more are expected within the week.

A 7-year-old related that she had walked for three hours from her village in order to collect food for her parents and five siblings, who were all too weak to accompany her.

“All I eat are vegetables and leaves,” said Nyatang Toy, as she waited in line to receive her ration cards.

An estimated 45,000 people still face starvation in Leer, Koch and Mayendit counties with additional areas across the country has deteriorated as well.

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