The United Nations warned on Friday (March 10) that over one million people were on the brink of starvation despite emergency aid delivery to counties such as Leer and Mayendit, classified as being in famine.
Last month the U.N. declared that parts of South Sudan are experiencing famine, the first time the world has faced such a catastrophe in six years.
Some 5.5 million people, nearly half the population, will not have a reliable source of food by July, the height of the lean season.
“Some 100,000 people are facing starvation in those two counties, Leer and Mayendit, while people in Koch and Panyijiar nearby are considered at high risk of famine,” a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Jens Laerke told reporters in Geneva.
“Overall, apart from the areas where famine is already declared, a further one million people are on the brink of famine across South Sudan,” he added.
The disaster is largely man-made. Oil-rich South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, has been torn apart by civil war since 2013, when President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer.
Fighting since has increasingly fractured the country along ethnic lines leading the U.N. to warn of the risk of genocide. Last year inflation topped 800 percent last year and war and drought have paralysed agriculture.
Urgent action is needed to prevent more people from dying of hunger, U.N. agencies WFP, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have warned.