The head of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) on Friday kicked off a three-day visit to South Sudan, where U.N. officials say some 2.5 million people face acute hunger after 15 months of conflict.
WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin is accompanied on the trip by U.S. ambassador to the U.N. agencies in Rome David Lane. The two held meetings in Juba on Friday before traveling to Unity state, which has been hard hit by the fighting.
On Saturday, they will visit a WFP food distribution site and a nutrition center. The center is run by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) for women and children suffering from malnutrition. Both facilities are in the town of Ganyiel, in the south of Unity state.
Cousin and Lane will then travel by boat to an island in the Sudd marshes where tens of thousands of South Sudanese who have sought shelter from the fighting are in need of food. The trip will wrap up on Sunday with a visit to a U.N. base in Juba, where thousands of South Sudanese have sought shelter.
Nearly two million people have been displaced by the fighting in South Sudan and an estimated 2.5 million are extremely food insecure, the U.N. humanitarian agencies have said.
WFP seeks this year to provide three million people in South Sudan with potentially life-saving assistance. The assistance will include nutritional support for mothers and children; food assistance for refugees and the internally displaced; and school meals.