Despite robust food supply conditions, droughts are worsening food security across swathes of East Africa, and access to food has been dramatically reduced in areas suffering civil conflicts, a new United Nations report revealed.“This is an unprecedented situation. Never before have we been faced with four threats of famine in multiple countries simultaneously,” Kostas Stamoulis, the Assistant Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said in a news release issued on Friday.
Stamoulis noted that famine has been formally declared in South Sudan, and the food security situation is of grave concern in northern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.
According to the new edition of FAO’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, some 37 countries require external assistance for food, 28 of them in Africa as a result of lingering effects of last year’s El Niño-triggered droughts on harvests in 2016.
In South Sudan, 100,000 people were facing famine in Leer and Mayendit counties, part of former Unity state.
Overall, about 4.9 million people across the country were classified as facing crisis, emergency or famine, the report noted.
Some 1.5 million refugees have fled fighting and famine in South Sudan to neighbouring countries, half of them to Uganda, and thousands more are leaving daily, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.
Refugees arriving in Uganda and Ethiopia often say they are fleeing from ethnic violence.
Violence has prevented many farmers from harvesting crops and the scarcity of food has been compounded by hyperinflation, triggering famine in parts of South Sudan, the report added.
Meanwhile, millions of people in Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Somalia and Somaliland are reportedly requiring emergency food assistance.