Despite the oil wealth, people in South Sudan are experiencing high levels of hunger due to the current lean season, a UN report warned on Friday.
“The lean season from May to July 2021 is expected to be the worst on record. The crisis, however, is about much more than just hunger. Conflict, displacement, flooding, loss of livelihoods, COVID-19, and an inability to reach healthcare and schools have created urgent humanitarian and protection needs, especially for women and children. Without security and stability, humanitarian needs will continue to grow,” the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in the report.
The OCHA said in the country with 11.3 million population, around 8.3 million people are expected to be in need of humanitarian assistance this year, while 7.2 million people “will face severe acute food insecurity between April and July.”
Some 3.8 million people remain displaced inside and outside South Sudan, the OCHA recalled.
Regarding the impact of the crisis on South Sudanese children, the UN body said that 1.4 million children under the age of five “are expected to be acutely malnourished in 2021.”
South Sudan, which got independence from Sudan in 2011, has been hit by years of conflict. Tensions began when President Salva Kiir sacked his deputy Riek Machar in 2013. A civil war broke out with many people joining the fighting.
A peace deal was signed on Sept. 12, 2018 and a unity government formed in February 2020. However, some opposition groups refused to cease fire, and are continuing with the fighting.
The disaster in South Sudan has been highlighted by several global organizations, an action apparently still not as big as the crisis needs it to be.
“For countries reeling from the consequences of conflicts, disasters and climate change, COVID-19 has turned a nutrition crisis into an imminent catastrophe,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said late last year, while the UNICEF at the time voiced that an estimated 10.4 million children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, northeast Nigeria, the Central Sahel, and Yemen are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021.