JUBA, July 17, (Xinhua/GNA)
- Experts have urged South Sudan's warring parties to speed up implementation
of a peace deal to ease worrying levels of hunger in the country amid
displacements caused by more than five years of conflict.
Tuesday during a public discussions on prevention of starvation in Juba, Tong
Deng Anei, a researcher with World Peace Foundation, said the humanitarian
situation remains worrying as thousands of civilians in Unity, Northern Bahr el
Ghazal and Yei area in Equatoria region remain at risk of starvation due to
denial of access to food and disruption of markets caused by conflict.
situation that we have been observing in South Sudan is actually very
worrisome. People are starving. In South Sudan nobody is supposed to be
starving because we have fertile land but because of the (conflict) insecurity
we are not able to produce enough. But it does not mean we don't have land and
resources," said Anei.
He noted that
famine was declared in Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap regions in June 2016
by South Sudan government and UN agencies and yet these areas were largely
spared from the conflict that broke out in December 2013.
Anei blamed the
continued closure of the Sudan border for causing food shortages in these
South Sudan has
experienced three cycles of famine since 1988 in Northern Bahr el Ghazal during
the decades of civil war which pitied the then-southern rebels of the Sudan
People's Liberation Army against authorities in Khartoum that eventually led to
independence of South Sudan in 2011.
famine was declared in June 2017 in Unity state especially in Leer and Mayendit
A joint report
by UN agencies in June finds that some 21,000 people will likely face a
catastrophic lack of food access while about 1.82 million will face emergency
and another 5.12 million people will face crisis levels of food insecurity.
Anei said that
the warring parties must implement the revitalized peace deal signed between
President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar in September 2018 in Ethiopia
to help ease the increasing number of hungry people in these parts of the
He said South
Sudan must strengthen the rule of law, and implement key provisions within
chapter 4 and 5 of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the
Republic of South Sudan which calls for transitional justice, setting of the
African Union-backed hybrid court to try individuals accused of war crimes that
displaced thousands, risking them to starvation.
Zacharia Diing Akol, political researcher with the Juba-based Sudd Institute,
said South Sudan cannot afford currently to pursue justice as the peace
implementation is ongoing, warning that it could unravel the nascent normalcy
and return the warring parties to conflict. "Investigation of conflict is
not always easy because you are confronted with two things that are
inter-related - the need to have peace so that you can have stability and the
need for accountability. Sometimes there is tension between the two
things," he said.
He said the
very people (politicians) being accused of committing war crimes are the very
people implementing the peace and any attempt to target them may derail the
want them to implement the agreement and you want to hold them accountable
there are consequences. Full blown accountability comes after the situation is
stabilized," said Akol.
Anne Itto, a
South Sudanese representative in East African Legislative Assembly, said
displaced civilians facing hunger are traumatized and that the future of the
country is at risk with a sizable number of children in the worst affected
areas suffering malnutrition conditions.
and famine has far-reaching impact in communities and households. Some people
die but others survive very weak and they become prone to diseases, simple
malaria will kill them. And then among children extreme hunger really stunts
children," said Itto.