Speaking to reporters from Ethiopia, World Food Program executive director Ertharin Cousin offered a dire warning about food security in South Sudan.  She had just returned from a refugee camp inside the Ethiopian border.

“90% of the people in the refugee camp are women and children,” she said. “Our inability to raise resources that are necessary will result in more mothers and children being lost and more mothers crying.”

Civil conflict in South Sudan took the world by surprise in December. Over 1 million people are  displaced by conflict.  Some 3.7 million people are considered to be at high risk of food insecurity, but the funding to support a massive relief effort commensurate with the needs has simply not materialized. So far a $1.2 billion appeal is only funded at 30%. 

The forthcoming rainy season will only make things worse. Roads will become unappeasable and according to Cousin, airdrops are at least three times more expensive than land convoys.  She says the WFP is currently in negotiations with the government of Sudan to permit the cross border delivery of humanitarian assistance to areas of South Sudan inaccessible by other land routes.

In the telephone press conference, Cousin discusses the needs of South Sudanese displaced by conflict and the challenges of delivering aid in a conflict zone. Have a listen.

Photo credit Melissa Flemming, via Twitter

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