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World’s newest nation faces prospect of famine

As East Africa reels from a devastating famine, which is hitting Somalia the hardest, there are new fears that another African nation could soon slip into a similar situation. On July 9th of this year, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation; however a few months later drought, conflict, refugees, and rising food prices could push the eastern region of South Sudan into a famine, warned officials from the fledgling nation yesterday.

“Lower harvests due to unreliable rains coupled with the rising food prices world-wide, have created a severe food shortage leaving more than 1.3 million in need of food aid,” Joseph Lual Acuil, South Sudan’s minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, said in Juba as reported by the Sudan Tribune.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees have poured into the region over the past year according to the UN, straining resources. In addition, late rains and conflict have meant that many agricultural areas are not being utilized. Finally food prices have risen rapidly: Salah Barkawi, local Beja party spokesperson, told the AFP that prices of a staple food, sorghum, have more than doubled recently.

In East Africa, officials estimate that 13 million people are threatened by hunger, while 30,000 children have died in the past three months alone.

South Sudan borders Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, and some have suggested that food shortages there are a part of the wider problem facing East Africa.

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