Despite lifting of famine, food insecurity still dire in South Sudan: IFRC

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-30 19:35:34|Editor: Zhou Xin
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JUBA, June 30 (Xinhua) -- The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Friday called for more efforts to tackle food insecurity in South Sudan, saying the situation in the conflict-torn country remains dire despite ease of famine.

Head of IFRC Country Office in South Sudan Michael Charles welcomed lifting of the famine classification for parts of South Sudan but cautioned that this must not obscure the "humanitarian catastrophe" that has enveloped the entire country

"This announcement is testament to what can be achieved when resources are available and access is possible ... But there is absolutely no room for complacency," Charles said in a statement.

He noted that although famine conditions are no longer present, 1.7 million people still face "emergency levels of hunger," the level below famine. Across the country, 6 million people are food insecure.

According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) update released on June 21, an analysis by the UN agencies, the South Sudanese government and other partners, the technical definition of famine no longer applies to former Unity State's Leer and Mayandit counties where famine was declared in February.

Immediate and sustained humanitarian assistance most likely played a significant role in preventing the Koch and Panyijiar counties from deteriorating into famine.

However, hunger has flared in the nation's northeastern corner -- the western bank of the Nile River -- while those in the southwest are facing unprecedented levels of need.

Charles said the difference between "famine" and "emergency levels of food insecurity" is invisible to the naked eye.

"People are still in an appallingly difficult situation, and we are already seeing the permanent consequences of this food crisis, particularly on young kids," he said.

More than 1 million children are acutely malnourished and there has been a steady increase of measles and other preventable diseases since the beginning of 2017.

"We are calling on partners to invest more substantially in local capacity and insist on unconditional humanitarian access," he said.