Experts say this will be the most hungry year in South Sudan’s history

“I don’t want to think about what will happen,” she said.

The 36-year-old Kuol was sitting on a hospital bed in Laofanga Town, Jonglai Prefecture, the hardest-hit area, trying to reassure her daughter, while accusing the government of not taking more action. Nearly two years have passed since South Sudan formed a coalition government as part of a fragile peace agreement to end a five-year civil war that plunged parts of the country into famine, but Kuol said nothing has changed.

“If this country is really at peace, there won’t be the hunger like it is now,” she said.

Aid organizations say there are more people facing hunger in South Sudan this year than ever before. This is because the worst flooding in 60 years and the slow implementation of conflicts and peace agreements have led to the deprivation of most of the country’s basic services.

“2021 is the worst year for this country since its independence in 10 years, and 2022 will be even worse. Food insecurity is at a terrible level,” said Matthew Hollingworth, the World Food Program’s national representative in South Sudan.

Although the latest food security report from aid organizations and the government has not yet been released, several aid officials familiar with the situation said that preliminary data show that nearly 8.5 million of the country’s 12 million people are facing severe hunger, 8% of which is an increase from last year. These officials did not want to be named because they do not have the right to speak to the media.

Aid officials say that the worst-hit Fajak County is now as bad as Pibor County this time last year, when global food security experts said that approximately 30,000 Pibor residents may be in famine.

During a visit to the three states of South Sudan in December, some civilians and government officials expressed to the Associated Press that people were starting to starve to death.

Jeremiah Gatmai, the humanitarian representative of the Lao Fangjak government, said that in October, a mother and her child died in Pulpham village due to lack of food.

According to the United Nations, nearly 1 million people across South Sudan were affected by the floods. Last year due to funding constraints, food aid in most places was cut by half, affecting approximately 3 million people.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in Jonglei State alone, two years of flooding prevented people from farming and killed more than 250,000 livestock.

Some displaced families in Old Fangak say that ground water lilies are their only meal a day. “We eat once every morning and then go to bed without eating,” Nyaluak Chuol said. The 20-year-old, like some others, lost her fishing net in the flood. When she had enough money, she paid a boy to fish for her.

Many residents from Jonglei State fled to neighboring states in search of food and shelter, but there was little chance of respite. In the town of Malakal, about 3,000 displaced people were crowded into abandoned buildings or hiding under trees, without any food to eat.

“We eat leaves and look like skeletons,” Tut Jaknyang told the Associated Press. He said the 60-year-old has only received food aid once since escaping from floods in Jonglei State in July. He and others said that a bag of donated rice must be shared by 20 people.

According to Christina Dak, a health worker of the International Medical Team, in the north of Malakal in the town of Wau Shilluk, health workers said that malnourished children entering the medical center The number has increased from 10 from January to July to 26 from August to December. .

Although flooding is the main driver of hunger, the situation has become more complicated as the country’s two main parties are trying to share power and the government has reached a deadlock.

Local officials in Malakal have allied with the opposition, accusing the long-time president of Salva Kiir’s party members of sabotaging political appointees and preventing them from dismissing corrupt personnel, thereby enabling governance and provision of services Becomes difficult.

“We are not working as a team. No one is paying attention to people,” said Byinj Erngst, Minister of Health of Upper Nile State.

In the granary in the southwest of the country, ongoing fighting between the government and opposition militias has increased political tensions.

Government spokesman Michael Makuei said that some relief measures such as medical services are still continuing, but the assistance that national authorities can provide is limited. “The flood destroyed the crops, what can the government do?” he said.

The frustration of the observer is growing. In December last year, the head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, warned in a speech to the UN Security Council that if the parties did not renew their political will, the country’s peace agreement would collapse.

Jill Seaman worked with the South Sudan Medical Relief Agency in Old Fangak and has more than 30 years of local experience. She concluded: “There are no resources, no harvests, no cows, no place to find food.”