Hunger in South Sudan at Highest Level Since War Began, UN Says

Almost half of South Sudan’s population face severe food shortages as a lengthy dry season and depleted stocks spur the country’s worst hunger since civil war began in late 2013, United Nations agencies said.

As many as 4.8 million people could suffer the effects of an “an unusually long and harsh annual lean season” before harvests expected to begin in August, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Children’s Fund and World Food Programme said Wednesday.

“This is the highest level of hunger since the conflict in South Sudan began two-and-a-half years ago,” the groups said in a joint statement handed to reporters in the capital, Juba. The figure doesn’t include an estimated 350,000 people in UN protection sites or other camps for those displaced who depend on humanitarian assistance.

Conflict in the oil-producing country has left tens of thousands of people dead and forced more than 2 million to flee their homes. The main rebel group returned to Juba in April and joined a transitional government that seeks to reform the economy and security forces before elections in about 30 months.

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