Juba, 15 June 2019: A New UN report projects record number of 6.7 million people in South Sudan, almost more than half of the country's population are facing severe hunger, the new report is combined report by the government of South Sudan and three United Nations agencies.
The warning on Friday came some nine months after a fragile peace deal between South Sudan's warring sides to end the five-year civil conflict has failed to form a transitional unity government in May.
The report said close to two million people were near starvation, but stopped short of declaring a famine.
The worsening situation was attributed to food shortages exacerbated by delayed rainfall, poor harvest in 2018, an economic crisis and years of strain from a conflict that killed at least 400,000 people according to London based school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
"Every year, hunger reaches new and unprecedented levels in South Sudan with millions of people unsure where their next meal will come from, particularly at this time of the year when hunger peaks from May to July," Hsiao-Wei Lee, of the World Food Programme [WFP], said in the capital, Juba.
UN-backed assessments used a ranking called the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification [IPC], which rates hunger levels from one to five.
The WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] and the UN children's fund [UNICEF] said about 1.8 million people in South Sudan were in an "emergency", or level four, which means large gaps between meals, acute malnutrition, and excess deaths.
More than five million others were also having to skip meals. At the beginning of 2019, it was estimated that 6.1 million people were facing hunger. But this figure now stands at 6.9 million people - about 61 percent of the country's population.
Under the IPC system, level five is classified as "catastrophe", and when it applies to 20 percent of the population is deemed a famine.
The same report said, the technical requirements for a famine were not currently met, the overall number of people requiring food aid had increased by about two million.