Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, where UN agencies warned on Monday that war and a collapsing economy have left 100,000 people facing starvation.
A further 1 million people were classified as being on the brink of famine, according to the World Food Programme (WFP) and other UN bodies. Unimpeded humanitarian access was urgently needed to reverse “an escalating catastrophe”, they added.
The famine is the first to be declared since 2011 in Somalia, where more than a quarter of a million people are estimated to have died between October 2010 and April 2012.
The UN has warned that three other countries – Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria – are at risk of famine.
Famine has been declared in parts of Unity State in the northern-central part of South Sudan. The formal announcement means people have already started dying of hunger.
Three years of civil war has devastated hopes that the oil-rich country would prosper when it gained independence from Sudan at the end of one of Africa’s longest running conflicts. Unity State, which borders Sudan, has been at the centre of some of the fiercest fighting, while tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes in the face of a government offensive against opposition-held areas.
The worsening crisis in South Sudan comes as three other countries – Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria – are at risk of looming famines, agencies have warned.