South Sudan warned that more than 100,000 people are at risk of starvation and death in the country, declaring the world’s first famine since 2012 in parts of Unity state.
The United Nations, which joined the South Sudanese government in announcing the famine on Monday, said another one million people out of a total population of 12.5 million are on the brink of famine, the Wall Street Journal reports.
It blamed the country’s economic collapse and the hunger crisis on fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, according to the paper.
The crisis could have been prevented had the fighting stopped and aid agencies been allowed by authorities to deliver food, officials from UN agencies were quoted as saying.
“This famine is man-made. The WFP and the entire humanitarian community have been trying with all our might to avoid this catastrophe,” World Food Program (WFP) country director Joyce Luma said.
Chronic food shortages have frequently afflicted the territory now known as South Sudan, but it is the first time in more than two decades the region has been hit by famine.
According to the UN’s definition, famine conditions are reached when at least 20 percent of households in an area face extreme food shortages, acute malnutrition strikes one in three people and the daily death toll exceeds two people per 10,000.
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