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South Sudan in Crisis as Famine Ravages World’s Newest Country

Famine has been declared in two counties of South Sudan, as a result of prolonged civil war and economic crisis.

A woman comforts her son, who is suffering from malaria, as they wait for treatment at a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) run clinic in the village of Likuangole in Boma state, South Sudan on Feb. 1, 2017.

Famine has been declared in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three U.N. agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation.

Siegfried Modola / Reuters

Women wait in line at a UNICEF supported mobile health clinic in the village of Rubkuai, Unity State on Feb. 16.

More than 100,000 people in two counties of Unity state are experiencing famine and there are fears that the famine will spread as an additional 1 million South Sudanese are on the brink of starvation, said the announcement.

Siegfried Modola / Reuters

A mother feeds her child with a peanut-based paste for treatment of severe acute malnutrition in a UNICEF supported hospital in the capital Juba on Jan. 25.

"Our worst fears have been realized," said Serge Tissot, head of the Food and Agriculture Organization in South Sudan. He said the war has disrupted the otherwise fertile country, causing civilians to rely on "whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch."

Siegfried Modola / Reuters

Women carry sacks of food in Nimini village, Unity State on Feb. 8.

Roughly 5.5 million people, or about 50 percent of South Sudan's population, are expected to be severely food insecure and at risk of death in the coming months, said the report.

Siegfried Modola / Reuters

A boy moves away as a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) helicopter lands in Rubkuai village on Feb. 18.

If food aid does not reach children urgently "many of them will die," said Jeremy Hopkins, head of the U.N children's agency in South Sudan. Over 250,000 children are severely malnourished Hopkins said, meaning they are at risk of death.

Siegfried Modola / Reuters
Internally displaced people wash and collect water in a reservoir in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP), near Bentiu on Feb. 6. Siegfried Modola / Reuters
A woman walks in a market in the town of Pibor, in Boma state on Feb. 1. Siegfried Modola / Reuters

A boy watches sacks of food drop to the ground during a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) airdrop close to Rubkuai village on Feb. 18.

"This famine is man-made,"said Joyce Luma, head of the World Food Program in South Sudan. "There is only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and security."

Siegfried Modola / Reuters
People move away from as a helicopter lands on Feb. 17. Siegfried Modola / Reuters
A United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) plane releases sacks of food during an airdrop on Feb. 18. Siegfried Modola / Reuters
People walk on a road in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP) on Feb. 8. Siegfried Modola / Reuters
A sick man is treated by a United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) peacekeeper during a foot patrol on Feb. 11. Siegfried Modola / Reuters
Nyagonga Machul, 38, touches the feet of her younger daughter, Nyawan Mario, 4, in their home at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site on Feb. 15. Siegfried Modola / Reuters
Women hold their babies as they wait for a medical check-up at a United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) supported mobile health clinic in Nimini village on Feb. 8. Siegfried Modola / Reuters
A blind man gestures in his home in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP) on Feb. 6. Siegfried Modola / Reuters