Parts of war-ravaged South Sudan have been hit by famine, a government official said on Monday, saying nearly half the country's population would lack reliable access to affordable food by July. Saskia O'Donoghue reports.
Parts of war-ravaged South Sudan are officially in famine, a government official said Monday (February 20). They say nearly half the country's population will lack reliable access to affordable food by July. Oil-rich South Sudan has been mired in civil war since 2013, when President Salva Kii fired his deputy. Since then the fighting has increasingly divided the country along ethnic lines, leading the United Nations to warn of a potential genocide. Many farmers have been prevented from harvesting their crops and hyper inflation, which reached more than 800 percent last year, has put the price of imported food beyond the reach of many. Parts of the country have also been hit by drought. According to the UN, famine is declared when at least 20 percent of households face extreme food shortages, acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent and two or more people per 10,000 are dying per day. Some have no choice but to leave their home country in search of safety and nutrition. Uganda alone now hosts some 740,000 refugees, most of whom have come since last year, says Lutheran World Federation's Jesse Kamstra. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LUTHERAN WORLD FEDERATION UGANDA COUNTRY REPRESENTATIVE, JESSE KAMSTRA, SAYING: "And in this year alone in the first six weeks we have seen over 100,000 people that have arrived in Uganda, so all resources for all agencies are stretched to the absolute maximum." Officials in Uganda say their transit and reception centers can only hold so many refugees. Many new arrivals resort to sleeping wherever there is space. It's a reality many of these refugees face.