War and Hunger Drive South Sudan Displacement
Two years of fighting kept farmers from their fields. Now chronic hunger is forcing increasing numbers of people to make risky journeys in search of help.
Sitting on the swept dirt floor, 31 people who fled home after years of war left them with nothing to eat take turns chewing at the dry flesh of a palm nut.
They are mostly mothers with young children, and one older man at the back anxiously cradling his sick son. Everyone looks gaunt and bewildered, and this might be their only meal today, but at least here they are safe. “There is still little food, and the children are still sick, but there is no gunfire,” says Nyepach Benyluok, who guessed her age at 25.
They walked for a week to escape a place in the grip of one of the world’s worst hunger crises, where three-quarters of a million people today survive mostly on wild plants, water lilies, and swampfish: South Sudan’s Unity State.
They are among 2.4 million people across the country officially classified as facing a ‘crisis’ or ‘emergency’ of food insecurity, according to Fewsnet, the global body mandated to monitor such situations. Of those, 1.6 million are displaced from their homes either because of the war, or the hunger that followed, or both.