By Deng Machol
Juba – The United States (US) has contributed $95 million to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to support the vulnerable people of South Sudan in the face of six year -conflict and floods.
The contribution will be used to assist 7.24 million people likely to face acute hunger this summer.
On Thursday, Ambassador Larry André Jr. told reporters in the capital Juba that the funding will provide critical protection, economic opportunity, shelter, healthcare, emergency food assistance, safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene services to some of the nearly 4 million South Sudanese refugees and internally displaced people in South Sudan.
It also supports refugees and host communities in Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“We are deeply concerned by the increase in the scale, intensity, and geographic spread of local conflicts. “South Sudan is at a critical point for humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian needs arising from severe acute food insecurity at likely famine levels have been compounded by political and intercommunal violence, and successive years of flooding,” said Andrè.
South Sudan is facing the highest levels of food insecurity and malnutrition since its independence in 2011.
The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification assessment this year warned that 7.24 million people will face severe acute hunger at the height of the lean season in May to July, while 1.4 million children will be acutely malnourished.
Meanwhile, Mathew Hollingworth, the Country director of WFP in South Sudan, said the WFP welcomed contributions totaling $345 million from the United States through USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance to support WFP food assistance in South Sudan, where rising food insecurity has pushed 60% of the population into hunger and poverty.
“This funding from our biggest donor, USAID, comes at a very critical time when funding is scarce and needs are enormous,” said Hollingworth. “WFP relies on predictable funding, which enables us to plan ahead to prevent the kind of alarming conditions that precede famine by covering the pressing needs of the most food-insecure communities. These funds will also help WFP to pre-position food stocks for the lean season when humanitarian access is more challenging,” he added.
South Sudanese warring parties signed a peace deal in three years ago but the peace process remains fragile to ends a conflict.
“The peace agreement and humanitarian challenges are closely related….there are key areas of the peace agreement that are yet to be implemented. If South Sudan’s foreign friends see that the political will is there to move the peace process forward then there may be an opportunity for assistance.”
The persistent insecurity, intercommunal conflict, and deliberate attacks against humanitarian aid workers and assets are exacerbating humanitarian needs and preventing life-saving food and nutrition assistance from reaching the most vulnerable.
The US Ambassador called on the Government of South Sudan to do everything in its power to protect humanitarian workers, improve humanitarian access, and expedite delivery of urgently-needed food to vulnerable South Sudanese citizens.
The United States is the single largest donor to the South Sudan crisis response, providing nearly $5.6 billion in humanitarian aid to support vulnerable people in South Sudan and South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries since December 2013.
Despite generous contributions from donors, funding shortages remain a reality in South Sudan, where humanitarian needs outpace the aid response. WFP was forced to cut food rations this April, affecting 700,000 refugees and internally displaced people who now receive 50 percent of a full ration, down from 70 percent.
The impact of COVID-19 and unprecedented floods on the lives of the vulnerable locals, and increased conflicts over the last five years have taken a heavy toll on the East Africa’s youngest nation, founded 10 years ago after two decades of civil war.