Parts of South Sudan officially in famine

Parts of war-ravaged South Sudan are officially in famine, a government official said Monday, February 20th.

They say nearly half the country's population will lack reliable access to affordable food by July.

Oil-rich South Sudan has been mired in civil war since 2013, when President Salva Kii fired his deputy.

Since then the fighting has increasingly divided the country along ethnic lines, leading the United Nations to warn of a potential genocide.

Many farmers have been prevented from harvesting their crops and hyper inflation, which reached more than 800 percent last year, has put the price of imported food beyond the reach of many.

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South Sudan famine and food crisis
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South Sudan famine and food crisis

A mother feeds her child with a peanut-based paste for treatment of severe acute malnutrition in a UNICEF supported hospital in the capital Juba, South Sudan, January 25, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Siegfried Modola)

Women wait in line during a UNICEF supported mobile health clinic in the village of Rubkuai, Unity State, South Sudan, February 16, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Siegfried Modola)

A United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) plane releases sacks of food during an airdrop close to Rubkuai village in Unity State, northern South Sudan, February 18, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Siegfried Modola)

Women carry sacks of food in Nimini village, Unity State, northern South Sudan, February 8, 2017

(REUTERS/Siegfried Modola)

People walk by inside the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilians site (PoC), near Bentiu, northern South Sudan, February 9, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Siegfried Modola)

A boy watches sacks of food drop to the ground during a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) airdrop close to Rubkuai village in Unity State, northern South Sudan, February 18, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Siegfried Modola)

A woman cooks a meal in the town of Pibor, Boma state, east of South Sudan, February 2, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Siegfried Modola)

A man collects sacks of food from a dry river bed after a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) airdrop close to Rubkuai village in Unity State, northern South Sudan, February 18, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Siegfried Modola)

People wait to receive food inside the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilians site (PoC), near Bentiu, northern South Sudan, February 10, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Siegfried Modola)

A boy moves away as a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) helicopter lands in Rubkuai village, Unity State, northern South Sudan, February 18, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Siegfried Modola)

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Parts of the country have also been hit by drought.

According to the UN, famine is declared when at least 20 percent of households face extreme food shortages, acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent and two or more people per 10,000 are dying per day.

Some have no choice but to leave their home country in search of safety and nutrition.

Uganda alone now hosts some 740,000 refugees, most of whom have come since last year, says Lutheran World Federation's Jesse Kamstra.

Officials in Uganda say their transit and reception centers can only hold so many refugees.

Many new arrivals resort to sleeping wherever there is space.

It's a reality many of these refugees face.


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