South Sudan no longer in famine but situation 'catastrophic'

The United Nations investigators and human rights groups accuse both South Sudanese government forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and former rebels backing opposition leader Riek Machar of ethnically-targeted atrocities, including extrajudicial execution of civilians and rapes since the war began in 2013, and say the crimes nearly always go unpunished.

The United Nations says the world is facing its biggest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War Two, with a total of almost 20 million people facing starvation in north-east Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, as well as South Sudan.

South Sudan no longer has areas in famine, but nearly 2 million people are on the brink of starvation and an estimated 6 million people — half the population — will face extreme food insecurity between June and July, according to reports by the government and the United Nations released Wednesday.

"Even though no county has been classified under starvation. this situation continues to be very critical", Isaiah Chol Aruai, chairman of National Bureau of Statistics, said in Juba as the report was released. "We are merely keeping people alive but far too many face extreme hunger on the edge of a cliff", said FAO's Director of Emergencies Dominique Burgeon.

The national dialogue, launched last month, is both a forum and process through which the people South Sudan shall gather to redefine the basis of their unity as it relates to nationhood, redefine citizenship and belonging, as well as restructure the state for national inclusion. People's ability to feed themselves has been severely eroded and continued life-saving emergency food and livelihoods support must continue to prevent a shift back to starvation.

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

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

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

Minister of global Development Marie-Claude Bibeau (right) talks with reporters as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Immigration Ahmed Hussen (left) and President of Red Cross Canada Conrad Sauve (centre) look on in Ottawa, Monday, May 29, 2017. "We can not wait for people to be starving to act".

Associated Press writer Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed.

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  • Joanne Flowers