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South Sudan will experience cute levels of food insecurity: report

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Extreme levels of food insecurity are expected across South Sudan through at least the first half of 2017, a food security analysis released on Saturday shows.

The report by the Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS Net), an agency providing early warning and analysis on food insecurity, says food availability is likely to be lower than normal due to below-average production and volatile trade, adding that very high prices will further limit food access.

"Despite the ongoing harvest, levels of acute malnutrition remain at Crisis and Emergency thresholds in many counties," FEWSNet said.

"Given the likely early depletion of household stocks and continued constraints to normal livelihood activities, high levels of acute malnutrition are expected to persist throughout the outlook period."

According to the report, humanitarian needs in the country continue to rise due to more than three years of civil conflict and economic decline.

It is estimated that about three million people have been displaced, of which more than 1.2 million people have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees, since fighting between rival political factions first broke out in December 2013.

In the absence of humanitarian assistance, the report warns, some households in Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Unity regions could exhaust their capacity to cope and be in catastrophe.

The report says that continued emergency humanitarian assistance and improved access is needed urgently to save lives.

In Unity, where over 50 percent of the population is already internally displaced, ongoing conflict has caused new displacements in Mayendit, Rubkona, and Leer in December, it says.

The report says food insecurity is particularly severe among internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Leer, the majority of whom are displaced to nearby swamps and lack access to food aid or basic health services.

"Although Unity hosts the largest number of IDPs, internal displacement has increased most rapidly in Greater Equatoria, where the number of IDPs has increased 250 percent since July," it says.

The report reveals that many displaced households lack access to their farms and are unable to harvest second season crops.

Insecurity throughout Eastern Equatoria region is forcing many to flee to Kenya, where the rate of refugee arrivals increased from about 300 people per week in September to over 1,000 people per week in November.

Conflict also continues to limit the delivery of assistance in many other counties, including in areas of Western Bahr el Ghazal, southern and central Unity, and Greater Equatoria.

However, emergency assistance reached many households in need in Lainya and Yei of Central Equatoria in October and November, respectively.


South Sudan’s tax department urges displaced officials to return

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s tax department on Friday urged about 159 officials displaced by the more than three years of conflict to return to work and boost the struggling customs department.

Acting Director General for Customs Service Akol Ayii Madut told journalists in the capital of Juba that the officials have abandoned duty leaving the tax body with a huge human resource gap.

"We have 41 officers and 118 non-commissioned officers and privates in custom service who have not been reporting for work in their various duty stations for a long time," Madut revealed.

Madut issued a two-week ultimatum for the absentee officers outside the country and seven days for those believed to be within the war-torn country to report to their work stations.

He added that failure to respond to the directive, will attract sanctions.

Madut also revealed that some of these officers are believed to be living in the internally displaced persons and refugee camps in neighboring countries.

"What I know is that some are in the camps in East Africa, some are in Kakuma refugee camp. Now some are calling us back by phone asking their salaries to be sent to them," he revealed.

He added that the exodus of these officers has left a human resource gap within customs department leading to revenue shortfall for the government.

"We lack manpower due to absence of these officers for over two years without replacement," he said.

In June, the International Monetary Fund urged oil rich but yet impoverished South Sudan to build the non-oil revenue sector in order to cushion the oil dominated economy from shocks in the aftermath of more than three years of conflict and fall in global oil prices that has led to hyper inflation in the country.

Inflation reached 835.7 percent in October alone, amid high prices of goods in the country with oil production currently below 130,000 barrels a day declining from the peak production of 350,000 barrels per day.



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