[QODLink]
Africa

UN: Millions at risk of hunger in South Sudan

Aid organisations air drop emergency relief food to thousands starving as access to northern villages becomes a problem.

Last updated: 02 Apr 2014 17:19
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Nearly seven million people at risk of hunger according to the UN [Reuters]

Desperate South Sudan villagers, fleeing fighting across the country, are eating grass and roots to survive as humanitarian organisations start costly air drops of food to northern parts of the country.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said on Tuesday the international community had a moral responsibility to help.

"One family told me they were boiling poisonous roots for six or seven days to take out the poison in order to have something to eat," he said from the town of Nyal in Unity state.

"These people are in risk of starvation."

James Puot, 50, told the Associated Press news agency he walked for 20 days with his wife and 10 children to get to Nyal. He said they were eating water lilies, roots and grass while drinking water from the Nile River.

"We've been waiting a whole day for some food,'' he said. "We've had no water. We've spent days without water."

A massive Ilyushin plane has started dropping more than 30 tons of food in the northern states. Each drop provides at least 15 days of rations for 18,000 people, intended to help those stranded between pro-government and anti-government troops.

But the air drops, three times more expensive than road deliveries, are straining the ramped-up humanitarian response because only a third of the UN's requested $1.27bn has been raised for the crisis.

Government crackdown 

The UN's response has been hampered by some missteps. The reported discovery of weapons in a UN convoy on March 10 prompted the South Sudan army and government to crackdown on all UN vehicles carrying aid. The issue further strained already shaky relations between the government and the UN.

Several UN agency staff in Juba told AP the cost of road delivery was now 25 percent more expensive as UN contractors are refusing to leave the capital with goods bound for neighbouring states due to harassment by soldiers and checkpoints that charge up to $10,000 in "inspection fees'' for goods to pass.

Ertharin Cousin, UN World Food Programme's top official, acknowledged an "access problem" but said President Salva Kiir assured WFP conditions would improve.

"This is one of many complications we are working to resolve." she said.

Nearly seven million people are at risk of hunger, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The UN reports that in the 100 days since the South Sudan conflict started more than one million people have fled their homes and 3.7 million are now at high risk of food insecurity.

393

Source:
AP
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
Residents count the cost of violence after black American teenager shot dead by white Missouri police officer.
join our mailing list