January 27, 2023

WFP calls for access to conflict-affected communities in Upper Nile and Jonglei states

JUBA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is today calling for the safe and secure passage of food and other humanitarian assistance into conflict-affected areas of Upper Nile and Jonglei states, amidst renewed conflict which has displaced thousands of families and left an unknown number of civilians dead or injured.

WFP depends on river transport to reach rural and remote communities during the rainy season, when roads become inaccessible. However, due to a deterioration in the security situation along the White Nile, WFP has had to suspend its barge movement between Adok and Malakal as the waterways have become inaccessible, to the detriment of communities in the firing line. Several attempts to negotiate access to reach communities facing emergency and catastrophic levels of food insecurity have failed.

On Saturday 10 September, a WFP river convoy carry 1,151 metric tons of food meant for communities in Fangak, Canal/Pigi, and Panyikang counties was forced to turn back after clashes between conflicting parties resumed enroute. These three counties already have some of the highest instances of food insecurity in the country with 55-60 percent of the population of Fangak and Canal/Pigi counties expected to be in emergency or famine-like conditions by now, and unable to meet their food needs.[1]

“The cost of inaction will be severe with the very real possibility of famine if we cannot access these communities immediately,” said Adeyinka Badejo, acting Country Director for WFP in South Sudan. “It is completely unacceptable that we have WFP convoys carrying food assistance that can save lives but are simply unable to get through. All parties to the conflict need to respect international humanitarian law and allow safe passage of WFP and other humanitarian cargo. We are running out of time to prevent people from dying of hunger.”

Prior to this latest outbreak of conflict, there had been sustained efforts to build food security and resilience for people in Fangak, Canal/Pigi, and Panyikang counties. WFP supported the construction of 16kms of dykes around both Old and New Fangak, protecting communities from the flood waters that have been sweeping through communities across the north of the country for the past four years. Additionally, almost 180,000 people have been receiving life-saving food and nutrition assistance across Fangak and Canal/Pigi counties, preventing a sharp deterioration of food and nutrition security.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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Source: WFP