The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has suspended its humanitarian food assistance in South Sudan due to a funding shortage.
Adeyinka Badejo, Acting Country Director of the World Food Programme in South Sudan, said the “Organisation had exhausted all options before suspending food assistance, including halving rations in 2021”.
“These latest reductions to assistance will also impact 178,000 schoolchildren who will no longer receive daily school meals – a crucial safety net that helps keep South Sudanese children in school to learn and grow,” Badejo said in a statement on Tuesday, June 14.
He said reductions would be unavoidable unless funding is received, noting that the drops would leave people unable to meet their basic food needs.
He said many people would revert to survival strategies such as skipping or reducing meals, selling assets, child labour, and forced marriage.
“We are extremely concerned about the impact of the funding cuts on children, women and men who will not have enough to eat during the lean season. These families have completely exhausted their coping strategies,” he said.
“They need immediate humanitarian assistance to put food on the table in the short-term and to rebuild their livelihoods and resilience to cope with future shocks.
“Humanitarian needs are far exceeding the funding we have received this year. If this continues, we will face bigger and more costly problems in the future, including increased mortality, malnutrition, stunting, and disease.”
The suspension of aid comes at the worst possible time for the people of South Sudan as the country faces a year of unprecedented hunger heightening the risk of starvation for 1.7 million people.
Over 60 per cent of the population is grappling with severe food insecurity during the lean season, fuelled by continuing conflict, severe flooding, localised drought, and soaring food prices exacerbated by the crisis in Ukraine.
The humanitarian organisation’s crisis response and resilience-building development programmes are underfunded this year, WFP said.
“WFP requires $426 million to reach six million food-insecure people through 2022,” Badejo said.
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