File photo shows a woman prepares food outside her temporary house at Konyo Konyo burial ground in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Nov. 5, 2017. (Xinhua/ Gale Julius)
JUBA, March 10 (Xinhua) -- The UN senior relief official in South Sudan on Friday called for urgent action to help avert a worsening food crisis in the world's youngest nation.
Alain Noudehou, the UN humanitarian coordinator, said although a famine was stopped due to intensive humanitarian intervention, the situation remains fragile, with about 85 percent of the population predicted to reach crisis and emergency food insecurity conditions by the end of April.
"Due to seasonal time pressure, we need early funding now to reach millions of people with multi-sectoral assistance during the dry season through road transport and prepositioning of life-saving aid supplies," Noudehou said in a statement issued in Juba.
"These same activities will be many times more costly if done by air transport during the rainy season," Noudehou added.
He was speaking after leading a high-level delegation of donors, heads of humanitarian agencies and partners to Leer, in the Unity region of South Sudan, to see first-hand the plight of the 90,000 people living in the area.
The delegation met with the governor of Leer, community leaders and aid agencies operating in the region. Leer was one of two counties affected by famine in 2017.
According to the UN, at least 4.3 million people have been displaced, including more than 1.8 million who are internally displaced and about 2.5 million who are in neighboring countries.
"Once again, I strongly urge all parties to the conflict to stop the fighting and to ensure that humanitarian agencies are given free, safe and unhindered access to all areas of South Sudan, and for all bureaucratic impediments to be removed," said Noudehou.
A recent report analyzing food security in the conflict-affected country projected that more than seven million people -- almost two-thirds of the population of South Sudan -- could become severely food insecure between May and July without sustained humanitarian assistance and access.
Civilians across South Sudan are continuing to suffer from hunger, disease and displacement with the conflict now in its fifth year.