Violence in Southern Sudan is blocking the delivery of food aid badly needed to prevent famine in some parts of the country, the World Food Programme has said.
Fighting continues in parts of the country despite an agreement signed last month to end a war that began two years after its independence in 2011.
The agreement commits the warring parties – forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and the rebel groups fighting them – to power sharing.
Food distributions were briefly provided in September, after four months without access, but insecurity is again preventing us from accessing the area.
But analysts and self-help groups believe that the functioning of the structure is not clear.
According to a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, this ethnic conflict that began in 2013 killed nearly 400,000 people.
The WFP said fighting was continuing in the Western Bahr el Ghazal and Central Equatoria regions. The group’s Country Director, Adnan Khan told Reuters by e-mail that nationwide “tens of thousands of people (are) in need”.
WFP singled out Baggari, an area southwest of the city of Wau, in Bahr el Ghazal, where the severity and spread of hunger was alarming.
It said “food distributions were briefly provided in September, after four months without access, but insecurity is again preventing us from accessing the area” .
When it was able to briefly access Baggari last month, WFP found acute malnutrition rates had risen to above 25 percent from 4 percent earlier this year.
In Wau, government soldiers have been accused by Human Rights Watch of attacking civilians and their homes.
“Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee into the bush or United Nations protection sites,” HRW said last week in a report on violence that began in June. “…Government forces are committing new abuses against civilians.”
Military spokesman Lul Ruai Koang denied the HRW report’s findings.
The East African nation gained independence in 2011 but has been torn apart by an ethnically charged civil war since late 2013.
On Wednesday, rebel leader Riek Machar is due to fly from Sudan’s capital Khartoum to Juba for a “Peace Celebration” hosted by Kiir and the presidents of Sudan, Uganda and Kenya are expected to attend.
It is unclear if Machar will be there. On Friday a spokesman for his group said: “We are still waiting for the release of political detainees and prisoners of war”.
Machar was last in South Sudan in 2016, after he was reinstated vice president under a short-lived peace deal agreed in 2015.