FAO called on South Sudan’s leaders to restore peace and stability in a statement issued on July 16. The agency warned that if peace does not hold, the human costs of recent fighting in Juba will be compounded by deepening hunger across the country.
Since the outbreak of violecne in South Sudan in December 2013, the livelihoods of millions of people have been disrupted, negatively affecting food security in the country.
Market disruptions due to the conflict, population displacement and a rise in prices of local food has all increased the level of food insecurity in the country, according to aid agencies.
Uncertainty grips the city and supplies to food markets have been disrupted.
A recent assessment by both, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) and FAO showed that more than 4.8 million South Sudanese would be severely food insecure this year. That assessment, which also indicated that malnutrition would be widespread starting this month, warned of the risk of a hunger crises in parts of the country.
The recent ceasefire declared by President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar, appears to be holding, “but uncertainty grips the city and supplies to food markets have been disrupted”, said FAO Country Representative Serge Tissot.
He said aid agencies hoped the relative calm in Juba would hold, but warned that violence may flare up again. “If the tenuous peace process falters, the consequences will be widespread and an already dire situation, in which over half the nation’s population is food insecure, could get much, much worse,” said Tissot.
“Under normal conditions, harvesting of the main maize and sorghum crop would begin in a few weeks’ time. Planting of a second season would take place over the same period. How well those activities are able to proceed will have a big impact on food security in both the short and the longer term,” added Tissot.
Stability and the continuation of the peace process would be essential to allowing agricultural production to continue and markets to re-open, said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
“We have to remember that peace and food security are two sides of the same coin. It is the currency that drives development and prosperity,” Silva said.
The recent violence in South Sudan’s capital left hundreds of people killed and thousands of others displaced from their homes.