By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A multi-agency convoy led by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has delivered lifesaving humanitarian assistance to families trapped for four months by increased insecurity in, and around, the town of Yei in South Sudan.
The convoy of 38 trucks transporting one month of food rations including sorghum, yellow-split peas, and vegetable oil from WFP, water, sanitation and child protection items from the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) and shelter items from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) arrived in the town on Friday.
“We have deployed a rapid response team to provide food to nearly 52,000 people who have been cut off from food supplies for four months,” said WFP South Sudan Country Director Joyce Luma.
“Yei is traditionally a place where people can grow their own food but since violence intensified in July people have been forced to leave their crops to rot in the field while they remain hungry. We are bringing assistance now but we are advocating for free and safe movement so that people can cater for their own food needs.”
Following an outbreak of violence in the South Sudanese capital of Juba in July, there has been a spike in conflict in the southern part of the country which is the most agriculturally productive region. This has kept farmers from their fields and disrupted food markets – as there have been ambushes along trade routes including the road between Juba and Yei.
The insecurity has also forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes for safety in neighbouring Uganda; estimates indicate that 295,000 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in Uganda since July.
The current response in Yei comes after WFP provided 9,000 people with food at the end of October in the villages of Logwili and Loka West in Lainya County where people have also fled into bushes as a result of increased insecurity.
With the support of donors including Canada, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Japan, Luxemburg, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America, as well as several private donors, WFP has provided food and nutrition assistance to 3.2 million people in South Sudan this year.
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