More than 250,000 children in war-torn South Sudan are “at risk of imminent death” because of severe malnutrition, a United Nations official has said.
Henrietta H Fore, executive director of the UN children’s agency (UNICEF), issued the stark warning on Friday after a two-day visit to some of the areas most affected by the country’s civil war, now in its fifth year.
“It’s serious here in South Sudan,” she said from South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
“We are very worried that a quarter of a million children are going to be facing death this year before July.”
The war, which broke out in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, has devastated agricultural production in the East African country, she said
“The violence has meant that many of the farmers have run away from their fields,” said Fore. “They are afraid to farm, and as a result there is just no food in the markets
Calling for emergency action to boost food security, Fore said South Sudan was now heading into the dry season, which “means there’s just less food, less water to be found”.