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UNICEF, WFP bring food to war victims in South Sudan

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UNICEF and the UN World Food Programme today announced a mission to bring urgent aid to 30,000 people in Jonglei State in South Sudan. Food, vacccines and other supplies are being airlifted into the remote town of Akobo, which is near the Ethiopian border.

Since conflict erupted last year between the government and opposition forces hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Food supply systems have been disrupted in an already impoverished country.

Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF's official in South Sudan, says, “Children and families in South Sudan are now facing unprecedented suffering - with worrying signs of malnutrition and disease outbreaks. With the rainy season looming we have to seize every opportunity to rapidly deploy teams and life-saving supplies to the hardest to reach. This is how we will avert a humanitarian catastrophe.”

WFP's Chris Nikoi adds, “The conflict in South Sudan is pushing millions of people further into hunger and complicating efforts to provide relief, and we are enormously concerned that things could get worse. We have to act quickly to avert an even worse crisis as the rainy season approaches. The mobile response teams are a swift and flexible approach we have been using to reach as many people as we can with assistance in a tremendously challenging environment.”

The UN says that nearly four million people in South Sudan are now at risk of severe hunger and malnutrition because of the conflict and existing poverty.

Both UNICEF and WFP rely on voluntary donations for their relief missions. However, the aid agencies are under stress from emergencies in Central African Republic, South Sudan and other nations.