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South Sudan Official Warns of Hunger Disaster

Children in then unified Sudan await food aid in 2009. Officials say Eastern Equatoria needs food aid to avoid disaster. (File)
An official from South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state made an urgent appeal Tuesday for international aid to stave off a humanitarian disaster in the Kapoeta region after a four-month drought, followed by heavy rains, wiped out crops and brought on a food crisis.

They tried to feed on wild fruits, and they died... Without this intervention, we will witness a disaster.
Kapoeta North County Commissioner Lokal Iko

With food scarce in markets and prices skyrocketing, health officials are reporting rising rates of malnutrition among children, pregnant women and the elderly, Kapoeta North County Commissioner Lokal Iko told a news conference in Juba.

Hunger has driven some county residents into the bush to scavenge for wild fruits, he said. Some people are so weakened from hunger that they have died while looking for scraps of food, Iko added, warning that, without aid, the region in southeastern South Sudan faces a humanitarian disaster.

“Some families don’t have cows and they tried to feed on wild fruits, and they died. So our call on behalf of greater Kapoeta counties -- we appeal to the national government and international bodies to intervene…

“Without this intervention, we will witness a disaster,” Iko said.

Iko and other Kapoeta officials said food stocks in the region are particularly low due to a drought last year, which was followed by unusually heavy rains. The combination of the two severe weather conditions wiped out most of the crops in the region.

Iko is part of a delegation from Kapoeta that is due to meet with South Sudan’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management to discuss how the government can help avert the potential crisis.