(Reuters/NAN), Abigael Joshua, Thonyor (South Sudan)
Thousands of South Sudanese families caught up in famine eat weeds and water lilies to survive, according to George Fominyen, Spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP).
He said “what we’ve seen is a lot of people coming from the islands.
“They have been living on water lilies, they have been living on roots, from weeds in the Nile, at most they eat once in a day.”
County commissioner Majiel Nhial also said when villagers received food aid in 2016, they were attacked.
He added that “men in uniform looted and burnt homes.
“We lost all our properties, cows and our houses were looted. We were attacked, women were raped and girls abducted.”
Last week, the United Nations declared that parts of South Sudan were experiencing famine.
It stated that some 5.5 million people, nearly half the population, would not have reliable source of food by July, noting that the disaster waslargely man-made.
Oil-rich South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, plunged into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir fired his Deputy, Reik Machar.
Since then, fighting had disorganised the country along ethnic lines, inflation topped 800 per cent in 2016 , while war and drought paralysed agriculture.
The women were among a crowd of 20,000 people that emerged from the swamps and assembled at the rebel-held village of Thonyor, in Leer county, when they heard the United Nations was registering people for emergency rations.
Some families received fishing nets and rods from aid workers to keep them going until food arrived.
It was UN first trip to Thonyor in a year.
Many parts of the country awere inaccessible due to fighting, while others were just very remote South Sudan, the size of Texas, only 200 km (120 miles) of paved roads, nearly six years after independence from neighbouring Sudan.
Meanwhile, Sara Dit and her 10 children were hiding from marauding gunmen in the swamps and islands of the river Nile.
The refuge has a steep price: families cannot farm crops or earn money to buy food.
They eat water lily roots and occasionally fish.
Dit said her family had not eaten for days.