On Wednesday I posted a short article warning of the threat of famine in South Sudan, as the conflict prevents planting. This has now been confirmed by Christian Aid, which has issued this timely warning.

Martin

7th March 2014
For immediate release

SOUTH SUDAN AT RISK OF FAMINE AS VIOLENCE CONTINUES AND RAINY SEASON APPROACHES

An estimated seven million South Sudanese are at risk of severe food insecurity this year, with the UN Security Council now warning that the deteriorating humanitarian situation and continuing violence could result in famine at the beginning of 2015.

Humanitarian agencies, including Christian Aid’s local partners, are struggling in a battle against time to access remote areas of the country where people are most in need before the rainy season arrives in late March or early April.

‘The time to act is right now – if we wait until after the rainy season it will be too late,’ warns Amos Nderi, Christian Aid’s South Sudan country manager.

‘Once the rains arrive, two thirds of the country will be cut off so we urgently need to pre-position food and essential items. However, the on-going violence continues to impede humanitarian access and worsen civilian suffering.

‘Traditionally March is the key planting season in South Sudan but the continuing conflict has severely disrupted this, and with over  705,000 internally displaced people it is extremely unlikely that enough food will be stored to see people through the hunger season later this year.

‘National partner organisations already present in the most remote areas of the country may have less difficulty accessing isolated areas so international donors must ensure that they take this into account when allocating funds,’ he adds.

Despite the signing of a Cessation of Hostilities agreement on the 23rd of January this year, violent clashes between the SPLA and opposition forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar have continued unabated.

The South Sudan Council of Churches sent a delegation to the second phase of peace talks in Addis Ababa in February, where they called for further humanitarian aid and civilian protection, and the need for an inclusive dialogue process to address the deeply rooted issues at the heart of the conflict.