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Famine looms in South Sudan, aid cash for seeds runs out

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:59 GMT
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South Sudanese women displaced by fighting wait at a water point in a camp for internally displaced persons at the UN base in Bentiu, Unity State. Picture June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu
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NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The FAO appealed for $66 million for South Sudan on Thursday, saying it needed to provide seeds, vaccines and equipment to two million people to head off the rising risk of famine.

“Resources have now run out,” the Food and Agriculure Organization said in a statement. “The Organization has delivered, spent or committed all of the funds it has received.”

Conflict between the government and rebels has driven more than 1.1 million people – more than half of them children – from their homes in South Sudan. Four million people - more than a third of the population - are facing emergency levels of food insecurity. 

Some 95 percent of South Sudan’s people farm, fish or herd livestock for a living, and the FAO has spent $42 million providing more than 1.2 million people with crop and vegetable seeds, fishing equipment and vaccines for their livestock.

“The distribution of the kits provides the means for fishermen to fish, farmers to plant and pastoralists to keep their herds healthy, which in turn puts milk, vegetables, meat and fish on the table, and that’s been keeping a lot of people alive right now,” FAO South Sudan representative Sue Lautze said in the statement.

“We must not wait for the current very critical situation to deepen or for a famine to be declared,” Jeff Tschirley of FAO’s emergency and rehabilitation division said.

“We need to act today to save lives.”

Cholera has killed 109 people in South Sudan since April, and the medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres said that malnourished people are more vulnerable to the disease.

(Editing by Tim Pearce; timothy.pearce@thomsonreuters.com) 

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