South Sudan is facing a major humanitarian crisis, a commission monitoring the country's peace process warned Tuesday, saying only a fraction of the necessary food aid is arriving where needed.
The armed conflict that has ravaged the country since December 2013 has prevented farming and created a food deficit, said Festus Mogae, chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC).
The JMEC was set up with the support of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a trade bloc in eastern Africa that also facilitated peace talks between the South Sudanese government and rebel forces.
Restrictions on aid convoys and insecurity are hampering the delivery of food aid to Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile provinces in the west and north of the country, Mogae said in the capital Juba.
Aid organizations have long accused the South Sudanese government of blocking aid transport, while the government has accused aid agencies of backing rebels. Aid transport has also been hampered by the threat of fighting and looting.
Mogae said 75,000 tons of food aid will be needed in the next three months, but only 5,000 tons were being transported per month at the moment.
The government of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebels led by his former deputy Riek Machar agreed on the formation of a transitional unity government last week.
The two signed a peace agreement in August, but fighting is nevertheless reported to have continued in the north and south of the country.
Nearly 4 million people – a third of the population – severely lacked access to a secure food supply in September last year, according to the United Nations.
The conflict, which started off as a power struggle between Kiir and Machar, has killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 2 million people.