Starvation declared in South Sudan; 4.9 million people need urgent help

The South Sudanese government and three humanitarian agencies have declared a starvation in some parts of the country as the newly independent nation struggle to bring oil back online.

Britain will provide 100 million pounds ($125 million) to each country in 2017/18 in addition to existing flows of aid.

More than $4 billion is needed by the end of March to help almost 20 million people who risk starvation in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday.

She said: "Our commitment to United Kingdom aid means that when people are at risk of dying from drought and disaster, we have the tools and expertise to avoid catastrophe". The beacon of hope in the distressing times is the Department for International Development Fund of United Kingdom, which announced 100 million pound assistance each to South Sudan and Somalia.

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Her eyewitness description of the crisis comes as Pope Francis called during his Wednesday General Audience for urgent humanitarian aid for South Sudan, saying millions risked being "condemned to death".

South Sudan has seen a three-year war between the government and rebel factions, leading to the displacement of 3 million people and the disruption of farming.

Civil war has destabilized the world's youngest country for more than three years due to a political power struggle between President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar. An increase in violence since the summer has further destroyed food production means, World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director Joyce Luma says in a statement.

Fews Net, the starvation early warning system, said some remote areas of Nigeria's Borno state are already affected by starvation since late past year and the disaster is likely to continue as aid agencies are unable to reach those in need.

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Emergency food will be delivered to up to one million people in Somalia, where ongoing conflict has deprived more than six million of reliable access to food and 360,000 children are acutely malnourished.

And in Somalia, around 6.2 million people - nearly half the country's population are facing acute food insecurity. The UN warned that three other countries, Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria, are also at risk of starvation.

What is imperative now is an affirmative and positive humanitarian action by the developed countries.

In Yemen, a child under 5 dies every 10 minutes of preventable causes, including acute malnutrition and access to adequate medical care.

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