A “hunger crisis is looming” for South Sudanese returning to their country after fleeing the fighting that has been tearing apart neighboring Sudan for more than five months, the UN World Food Program (WFP) warned on Tuesday.
Since its outbreak on April 15, the war in Sudan between the army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo has left nearly 7,500 dead, according to an estimate careful analysis of the NGO Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.
It also displaced more than five million people, including 2.8 million who fled the capital Khartoum , the scene of incessant airstrikes, artillery fire and street fighting.
The majority of people who fled the fighting and crossed the border into South Sudan are South Sudanese who “return to a country already facing unprecedented humanitarian needs” , underlines the WFP in a press release.
“We are seeing families move from one disaster to another, fleeing danger in Sudan only to find themselves facing despair in South Sudan,” says Mary-Ellen McGroarty , WFP director in South Sudan.
However, the WFP does not have the “necessary resources to provide vital assistance to those who need it most ,” she warns.
South Sudanese “cross the border with nothing but the clothes on their backs” , and some are also victims of theft and violence during their journey, says the WFP, which also fears epidemics during the rainy season .
After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan descended into a civil war that left nearly 400,000 people dead and millions displaced between 2013 and 2018.
A peace agreement signed in 2018 provided for the principle of power sharing between rivals Salva Kiir and Riek Machar within a national unity government. But tensions and violence continue to undermine the youngest country on the planet, rich in oil but where the vast majority of the population lives below the poverty line .