LEER TOWN, SOUTH SUDAN - Emergency food aid was airdropped in famine-stricken areas of South Sudan on Monday, the World Food Programme (WFP) said, releasing video of the rations being distributed to locals.
According to WFP, some 14,000 people had been registered and assisted by inter-agency rapid response mission teams deployed in Leer Town in Leer county.
The locals were provided with 30-day rations including cereals, pulses and vegetable oil. Specialised nutritious fortified cereal (SSB++) was distributed to all children under the age of five to prevent and treat moderate acute malnutrition, WFP said.
"WFP is delivering now 259 metric tons, which is a full ration for one month of the three major commodities -- that is cereal, pulses and vegetable oil, plus the csb++ which is distributed to the children aged 6 to 59 months for combating malnutrition," WFP Rapid Response Team leader to Leer Town, Lenidace Andrew Rugemalila, said.
"It's a good amount of food, significantly going to really help the community to minimise the food shortage," he added.
Leer County is one of the two counties in South Sudan classified as being in famine. Emergency food aid is currently expected to be distributed to a total of around 50,000 people, the UN agency said.
"I have been here for four days in order to receive food. Today I finally got my food and I am very happy," local woman Regina Nyakuoth, told WFP.
Almost five million people need urgent food, agriculture and nutrition assistance in South Sudan, UN agencies said in a statement on Wednesday (March 8).
According to the United Nations, some 100,000 people face starvation in the counties of Leer and Mayendit. A further one million people are classified as being on the brink of famine, the statement said.
Last month the UN declared that parts of South Sudan are experiencing famine, the first time the world has faced such a catastrophe in six years. Some 5.5 million people, nearly half the population, will not have a reliable source of food by July, the height of the lean season.
The disaster is largely man-made. Oil-rich South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, plunged into civil war in 2013, after President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar. Since then, fighting has fractured the country along ethnic lines, inflation topped 800 percent last year and war and drought have paralysed agriculture.
Urgent action is needed to prevent more people from dying of hunger, UN agencies WFP, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned.
Delivering adequate and sustained assistance immediately will help avoid further suffering and help improve the situation in the upcoming months, the agencies added.