Famine has been declared in some areas of South Sudan – the first time such a declaration has been made since 2011.
The country has been dogged by civil war, drought and hyperinflation. The situation is now taking its toll.
The concern is the famine could spread.
Jonathan Pedneault, the researcher for South Sudan at Human Rights Watch, told Euronews the situation in South Sudan could not be any worse.
How bad is the situation in South Sudan?
JP:The human rights situation in South Sudan is amongst the worst on the continent and the planet.
For the past three years, government and opposition forces have been waging an extremely abusive war and repeatedly targeted civilians, in complete impunity.
This is a man-made crisis. Anyone with basic common sense knows the culprits. Yet, int'l actors continue to act as though perps are legit. https://t.co/rjS6VXT1qM— Jonathan Pedneault (@j_pedneault) February 20, 2017
What, in your view, are the factors causing the food shortages??
JP:There are several factors, including seasonal droughts and an economy in crisis.
However, the current food shortages and the ensuing famine that was declared by the UN in parts of South Sudan cannot be dissociated from the current conflict and abuses taking place for the last three years.
In many areas across the country, civilians have been forcefully displaced by the armed parties and seen their houses and livelihood destroyed in the fighting.
As of now, more than 3.3 milion South Sudanese have either been displaced or taken refuge abroad.
Millions are facing a dire humanitarian situation, rising inflation and ruthless armed actors keen on attacking them and their livelihoods.
What is your worst fear about the situation?
JP:We are obviously concerned that the famine could extend to additional areas.
But just as equally troubling is the fact that fundamental human rights continue to be blatantly violated by both parties in complete impunity, bringing about a myriad of consequences amongst which are the humanitarian crisis and famine are but the most visible.
*What can or should the government and/or the international community be doing about this? *
JP:The famine should be responded to through additional humanitarian aid, but one cannot properly fix this issue without addressing its root causes.
At the core of these lie the continuation of abuses by both government and opposition forces, in complete impunity, and the obstruction of humanitarian aid to some areas by the warring parties.