At least $1.1 billion is needed to plug a funding shortfall to assist millions of people affected by the conflict in South Sudan, The Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday.
A group of eight agencies including the International Rescue Committee, Oxfam International and CARE International urged donors to address the funding shortfall during the aid conference for South Sudan, due to open on Tuesday in Geneva.
At least 8 million people, or around 60% of the country’s total population are hungry, the agencies said.
The conflict which erupted in December 2013 after a flare-up of a long-standing internal power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, continues to disrupt farming and aid deliveries, leaving the oil-producing nation on the verge of turning into a broken state.
“While needs have risen dramatically, funding hasn’t,” said Aimee Ansari, country director for CARE South Sudan.
The agencies said that donors have yet to honor some $200 million of the $529 million they pledged at a similar conference in Nairobi in February.
The U.S., which strongly supported South Sudan’s independence from Sudan in 2011, has spent more than $1 billion in aid for the country since the conflict erupted, according to U.S. government figures. But the warring factions continue to ignore pleas from the international community to stop the fighting.
In recent weeks, fighting has centered around oil fields in Upper Nile and Unity state, threatening the remaining functional oil fields upon which Juba relies for nearly its entire revenue earnings.
Food prices have shot up by 40% between January and April, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, putting vital staples out of reach for millions of people.
“Hundreds of thousands of children are malnourished…yet they are the future doctors, lawyers, civil servants and community leaders of South Sudan,” said Ronald-Paul Veilleux, Country Director for the International Rescue Committee. “Not getting aid to them in time further undermines the development potential of this nation.”