Heavy floods destroy 20,000 tonnes of food in South Sudan: UN
South Sudan's already fragile food security situation has worsened following heavy floods which destroyed about 20,000 tonnes of food in the northern parts of the country where an estimated 900,000 people are affected, the UN said on Wednesday.
Mary-Ellen McGroarty, head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in South Sudan, said the latest food security assessment completed in September shows that over 4 million people suffer from food insecurity.
Many of these people were expecting their harvest in October. However, those harvests had been washed away, according to McGroarty.
She revealed that earlier estimates by WFP indicate that about 755,000 people are in need of food and nutrition assistance, adding that 490,000 of these people are mostly refugees in Maban in Upper Nile region who have been relying on seasonal support.
These people had hoped to transition out of that support but all their harvests have been destroyed meaning parts of the country's entire harvests are lost, she disclosed.
"We estimate that over 20,000 tonnes of food has been lost and it could be worse," said McGroarty.
WFP said that the situation that the country faces with the floods is unprecedented in decades.
"You have parts of the country that have never before seen such flooding mainly because of the unusually heavy rains in South Sudan but also in the neighboring countries," she added.
McGroarty said WFP is planning an immediate response for the three-month period ahead to stabilize the situation.
McGroarty also hopes for the prevailing cessation of hostilities between government troops and the main-opposition group the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by Riek Machar continues holding to allow more unhindered humanitarian access.
"We say peace is such a foundation for the potential of this country. Over the last 12 months, we have been able to access many vulnerable populations, certainly this needs to continue so that we can deliver a solid and comprehensive response," she said.
WFP is already relying on boats to deliver food assistance besides reopening inaccessible roads in Maban and Pibor where food distributions have started. "We have boats out there getting food out," she said, adding purpose vehicles had been up there working with the communities, local authorities to try and reopen roads.
The president of South Sudan Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar are reported to have further talks in Ugandan capital on Thursday and also meet on Nov. 8 in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development which mediated the 2018 revitalized peace deal, in last-ditch efforts to push the warring leaders to agree on formation of the transitional unity government set for Nov.12.
South Sudan descended into conflict in December 2013. A peace deal signed in 2015 collapsed after the outbreak of renewed violence in July 2016, forcing Machar to flee the capital. (Xinhua)