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South Sudan starvation levels alarming, U.N. warns

South Sudan starvation levels alarming, U.N. warns

South Sudan

U.N. food experts warned Tuesday of “alarming” levels of starvation in South Sudan with food prices at record highs after two years of civil war marked by atrocities.

Fighting rages despite an August agreement, and food experts have repeatedly warned that parts of South Sudan’s northern Unity region are on the brink of famine.

“Alarming reports of starvation, acute malnutrition and catastrophe levels of food insecurity have been reported in areas worst affected by the ongoing violence,” the Food and Agriculture Organization stated.

It warned of “a bleak forecast” for the year, with “rapidly depleting food supplies and a likely protracted lean season,” adding that “food prices have reached record highs.”

The world’s youngest country is struggling to stem soaring inflation caused by war, corruption and the near collapse of the oil industry.

“Food insecurity has spread to areas previously considered relatively stable, highlighting the cumulative impact of conflict, economic downturn and climatic shocks,” FAO added.

Fighting spread to once peaceful Western Equatoria and Western Bahr al-Ghazal regions, bread basket areas for the rest of the country.

“Increased fighting puts the upcoming agricultural season at risk, with alarming potential to impact on food security for the entirety of South Sudan,” FAO emphasized.

Meanwhile, the first batch of rebel soldiers arrived in Juba Monday as a much delayed part of the peace deal, with 39 out of a planned 1,370 troops arriving, monitors said.

The monitors also called for rebel leader Riek Machar to return to take up his post of vice president.

“There are no remaining difficulties in the return of the first vice president-designate and the formation of the new transitional government of national unity,” said Festus Mogae, who heads the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission.

South Sudan erupted in fighting in late 2013 when a political crisis provoked clashes between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels allied with his former deputy, Riek Machar.